Stollings v. Ryobi Technologies, Inc.

Federal 7th Circuit Court
Civil Court
Product Liability
Case Number: 
No. 12-2984
Decision Date: 
August 2, 2013
Federal District: 
N.D. Ill., E. Div.
Vacated and remanded
In product liability action alleging that defendant manufacturer of table saw failed to equip saw with either of two safety features that, according to plaintiff, would have prevented him from injuring his hand when kickback occurred while cutting piece of wood, Dist. Ct. erred in allowing defendant’s counsel to argue to jury on several occasions that plaintiff’s counsel brought instant action as part of joint venture with inventor of technology for one of proposed safety features to force saw manufacturers to license said technology. Instant attack on motives of plaintiff’s counsel deprived plaintiff of fair trial since it served to direct jury’s focus away from elements of case to extraneous and inflammatory considerations. Moreover, Dist. Ct. erred in admitting newspaper article in support of defendant’s attack on plaintiff's counsel, where said article constituted inadmissible hearsay evidence. Fact that plaintiff had opportunity to rebut instant attack did not require different result.