SCRANTON – Louisville Ladder Inc. is seeking summary judgment in a case filed by a Canadensis couple alleging that a ladder manufactured by it failed and caused serious personal injuries.
Dennis Mercurio and his wife Colleen submitted their complaint to the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County on Jan. 28, 2016. Louisville Ladder later removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in March 2016 and filed for summary judgment May 22.
The pair claim that on April 29, 2014, while working for Price Bros. Electrical Contractors, Dennis Mercurio climbed the 8-foot fiberglass stepladder to replace an exterior light, located above a doorway.
Dennis Mercurio alleges that despite using the ladder many times without issue, on this occasion the ladder twisted as he reached up with his screwdriver, and he and the ladder fell down a set of steps. According to the complaint, as a result of the fall Dennis sustained several permanent injuries to his shoulder, back, neck and nervous system.
In a motion for summary judgment submitted by Louisville Ladder on May 22, the company says the Mercurios’ liability expert Stephen Fournier is noted as arguing “that the ladder is defective in design because it permits ‘excessive’ flexibility (or racking) which can lead one of the ladder feet to come off the ground, making the ladder unstable and move unexpectedly. He proposes an alternative design to the spreader assembly, consisting of adding stiffener plates, which he claims will reduce flexibility and the likelihood of the ladder transitioning to three point contact.”
Louisville Ladder argued that Fournier’s reports do not state that the ladder possessed a manufacturing defect, and that he even conceded none existed during his deposition.
The defendant also points out in the motion that “Mr. Fournier states that the ladder can unexpectedly walk due to excessive flexibility, but his testing of the ladder with his alternative design also walked on three of the five tests his technician performed. Accordingly, any opinion that the alternate design would have prevented the ladder from walking and causing Mr. Mercurio’s accident is pure speculation.”
The defendant offers two further rebukes to the Mercurios’ complaint, noting first that at Fournier’s deposition, he stated that the ladder should bear a warning about the possibility of the ladder moving unintentionally. Louisville points out, however, that the plaintiffs must provide evidence demonstrating that a different warning would have impacted what happened to Mercurio, but they did not design nor test such a warning.
The company’s final response to the plaintiff’s allegations addresses the complaint’s claims for breach of express and implied warranty.
“No express warranty was offered with the ladder, and Mr. Mercurio was not involved in the transaction, thereby precluding an express warranty claim,” argues Louisville’s motion. Louisville has also filed a motion in limine to preclude Fournier’s testimony.
The Mercurios are asking the court for judgment against Louisville Ladder on five counts: strict liability, negligence, express warranty, implied warranty, and loss of consortium on behalf of Colleen Mercurio. On each count, they are seeking damages of more than $75,000 plus interest and costs.