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Pennsylvania Superior Court finds that the continued vitality of the prohibition on government and industry standards evidence is a question best addressed in a post-Tincher case.

October 3, 2016
Webb v. Volvo Cars of N. Am., LLC, 2016 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2214, (Pa. Super. Ct. 2016)

In this crashworthiness case, the plaintiff asserted negligence and strict liability claims against the defendants. On appeal, the Superior Court held that the trial court erred when it instructed the jury on federal safety standards after dismissing the plaintiff’s negligence claims. In vacating the jury’s defense verdict, the Superior Court noted that, under the prevailing precedent at the time of trial, government/industry standards were irrelevant and inadmissible in strict product liability actions. Analyzing the impact of Tincher, the Superior Court noted that “it is not clear that the prohibition on evidence of government or industry standards no longer applies.” Rather, Tincher raises unanswered questions as to whether such evidence should be admissible under the consumer expectation test, the risk-utility test, or not at all. Because the defendants in Webb did not directly advocate the overruling of binding precedent, the Superior Court declined to address these questions. Instead, the court concluded that questions pertaining to “the continued vitality of the prohibition on government and industry standards evidence” are best left to post-Tincher parties who “must tailor their pleadings, discovery, and trial strategy to one or both of the new theories of liability.”

 

Case Law Alerts, 4th Quarter, October 2016. Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2016 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.

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