A federal court in Texas recently granted summary judgment to Bumbo International on a failure-to-warn claim filed by the parents of an 8-month-old girl who allegedly injured her skull when she fell out of the company’s baby seat to the floor from the kitchen table where it had been placed by her mother; a jury then returned a verdict in favor of the defendants on all remaining claims. Blythe v. Bumbo Int’l Trust F/K/A Jonibach Mgmt. Trust, No. 12-36 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Tex., Victoria Div., order entered on motion for summary judgment November 26, 2013).
 
Noting that the plaintiffs owned a Bumbo seat that was sold after the product was recalled and included a new warning on the seat itself that said “Prevent Falls: Never use on any elevated surface,” the court rejected their effort to create an issue of fact by introducing an “expert report” purporting to observe that consumers could fail to heed this new warning. In this regard, the court stated, “Just as courts do not allow experts to invade the province of the jury, courts refuse to permit experts to invade the role of the judge in making legal determinations.… The Blythes’ argument that their expert’s opinion precludes the Court from making a legal determination on a set of undisputed facts is akin to arguing that an expert’s opinion that a contract contains an ambiguity overrides a judge’s duty to interpret a contract, or that an expert’s opinion that an employer engaged in discrimination supersedes the legal framework for deciding when circumstantial evidence is sufficient to get to a jury in an employment case.” 
 
The court allowed the design-defect and neligence claims to proceed to a jury, and, according to the court, “[i]llustrating a point sometimes lost on defense lawyers who too often view summary judgment as the ‘be-all and end-all’ of a case, the jury viewed the evidence in favor of the Defendants and rejected Plaintiffs’ design defect and negligence claims.”
 
The adequacy of the warning was, in the court’s view, an issue that did not require specialized knowledge. The court also stated that the marketing-defect claim would fail as well for lack of causation because “the Blythes did not read any warnings— the ones on the box, in the instruction leaflets, or on the seat.” The court allowed the design-defect and negligence claims to proceed to a jury, and, according to the court, “[i]llustrating a point sometimes lost on defense lawyers who too often view summary judgment as the ‘be-all and end-all’ of a case, the jury viewed the evidence in favor of the Defendants and rejected Plaintiffs’ design defect and negligence claims.”