The plaintiff was injured while operating a Crown “stand-up” forklift when, in an effort to avoid a collision with another forklift, she applied her brakes, causing her left foot to swing out of the unenclosed operator compartment, where it was crushed between the two machines as they collided. She brought suit against Crown under the LPLA, claiming that the lack of a door to the operator compartment of the stand-up forklift constitutes a design defect. The district court granted Crown’s motion in limine to exclude her expert witness due to her failure to meet discovery deadlines, but denied the defendant’s motion foe summary judgment, concluding that an unassisted trier-of-fact would be capable of understanding whether a door should have been incorporated into the forklift. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. “Crown’s argument is that, as a matter of statutory interpretation, the LPLA requires expert testimony in every instance in which a design defect is alleged. We are unable to agree…. No language or provision of the statute requires that a cause of action alleging a design defect must, as a matter of law, be supported by expert testimony. To the extent the statute allocates burdens of proof or production, it simply states that ‘the claimant has the burden of proving the elements of [his or her claim].'” Malbrough v. Crown Equipment Corp., 392 F.3d 135 (5th Cir. 2004).
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