Texas High Court Overturns Verdict on Genie Lift Death Suit

May 11, 2015

The Texas Supreme Court overturned a jury’s verdict that Genie Industries Inc. was liable for the death of a worker operating one of the manufacturer's lifts. The vote was 6-3 in favor of Genie.

In the case of Genie Industries v. Matak, the Texas Supreme Court held that when people intentionally misuse a product in a way that is clearly dangerous, the manufacturer is not responsible for the resulting injuries.

The case came about when James Boggan and Walter Matak, two fully-trained workers, intentionally misused a Genie Super Series AWP S40 aerial work platform when installing fiber optic cables and pipe in a Texas church ceiling. Instead of lowering the lift each time when moving to a new location, Matak remained on the fully extended lift while it was being pushed around. The lift then tipped over and killed Matak.

The men ignored the lift’s manual, eye-level illustrated warnings, and a church supervisor’s verbal warnings.

Matak’s parents sued Genie, arguing that the lift was defectively designed because it failed to prevent intentional misuse. The trial jury had found Genie liable for 95 percent of the $1.3 million award.

The Supreme Court rejected the jury’s verdict that Genie was responsible for the incident stating that the “lift cannot be said in any sense to be unreasonably dangerous.”

Three members of the court dissented.

Source: Pacific Legal Foundation