A federal court in South Carolina has dismissed strict liability and negligence claims filed by a woman who alleged that she was injured by an automatic door at the entrance to a retail store; the court excluded her expert’s testimony for failure to submit a report that complied with the federal rules, as well as a number of exhibits purporting to support her claim of manufacturing defect. Morris v. Dorma Automatics Inc., No. 09-3267 (U.S. Dist. Ct., D.S.C., Charleston Div., decided January 18, 2013). Among the exhibits were repair work orders or invoices for problems other than the defect cited by the plaintiff or for work done after the accident, which must be excluded under the “subsequent repairs doctrine” of Federal Rule of Evidence 407.
As to the plaintiff’s strict liability claim, the court found that the “admissible evidence in this case leaves Morris with insufficient proof that her alleged injuries occurred because the automatic doors were in an unreasonably dangerous condition due to a manufacturing defect in the Superscan on the interior side of the left entrance door. In addition, Morris has not provided sufficient evidence that the product, at the time of the accident, was in essentially the same condition as when it left the hands of defendants, especially as it pertains to Dorma Automatics. The admissible documentary evidence is weak and does not point to the specific defect alleged, and Morris did not offer expert testimony to support her view.” Noting that negligence imposed a burden on the plaintiff in addition to the requisite elements of a strict products liability claim, the court found that her admissible evidence was similarly insufficient to prove this claim.