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Dixon v. Home Depot U.S.A.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

June 16, 2015

DANIEL L. DIXON
v.
HOME DEPOT U.S.A., ET AL

RULING

ROBERT G. JAMES, Magistrate Judge.

This is a products liability case brought by Plaintiff Daniel Dixon ("Dixon") pursuant to the Louisiana Products Liability Act (the "LPLA") against the Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. (the "Home Depot"), Ryobi Technologies, Inc. ("Ryobi"), One World Technologies, Inc. ("One World"), and Techtronic Industries Co., Ltd. ("Techtronic") (hereafter collectively referred to as "Defendants").

Pending before the Court are Defendants' Motions in Limine to "Bar Reference to Data/Reports of other Purportedly Similar Incidents" ("Motion on Similar Incidents") [Doc. No. 94] and to "Prohibit Reference to Alleged Defective Conditions in the Subject Saw that did not Cause or Contribute to Dixon's Accident" ("Motion on Defective Conditions") [Doc. No. 98].

For the following reasons, the Motion on Similar Incidents [Doc. No. 94] is DENIED. The Motion on Defective Conditions [Doc. No. 98] is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Dixon was injured on January 7, 2011, while operating a table saw, Ryobi model BTS 12S ("the saw" or the "BTS 12S"). Dixon purchased the saw in September 2009 from the Home Depot in Monroe, Louisiana. Dixon filed this personal injury lawsuit, seeking compensation under the LPLA.

The Court has found that genuine factual issues exist as to whether the saw's 3-in-1 blade guard was defective. See [Doc. No. 129]. Dixon's experts opine that the guard is defective because its spreader mechanism is too flexible and wobbly, because it does not include a rise-and-fall riving knife, [1] or a tuning fork.[2] These deficiencies, and others, according to Dixon's experts, have severely inhibited use of the saw, which, they argue, is causing many people to remove the guard, increasing the risk of injury. Dixon admits that he was using the 3-in-1 blade guard when his accident occurred and testified that he never had problems with it.

It is undisputed that the guard was in compliance with the applicable table saw safety standard, UL 987, at the time of its manufacture. That standard was revised twice before Dixon's accident, [3] but those revisions were not made mandatory until 2010, approximately one year after the subject saw was manufactured. The saw was not in compliance with those revisions.

Defendants anticipate that Dixon will attempt to enter two items into evidence: a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC") and a letter from the CPSC to Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. ("UL"). The CPSC is the governmental entity charged with overseeing table saw safety. In 1976, the CPSC issued a "Product Profile" report (the "CPSC Report") that addressed the troubling number of injuries related to various saw types, including table saws, portable power saws, and chain saws. The Report solicited commentary and data from "consumers, industry, and other interested parties" to assist the CPSC in determining appropriate remedial actions. [Doc. No. 94, Exh. B, CPSC Report, p. 3].

UL is a safety consulting and certification company that, among other things, is the body charged with drafting and enforcing voluntary safety standards for the table saw industry. On May 18, 1990, the CPSC sent a letter to UL (the "UL letter"), which outlined the need to make changes to the CPSC's bench and table saw standards because of the significant number of injuries associated with those saws.

Defendants move the Court in limine to bar Dixon from attempting to enter the CPSC Report, any other CPSC data or reports that he alleges to be "similar" to his accident, and the UL letter into evidence, arguing this evidence is inadmissable on several grounds. [Doc. No. 94]. Dixon filed an opposition memorandum, [Doc. No. 105], to which Defendants replied. [Doc. No. 123].

Defendants also move the Court to prohibit Dixon from introducing any evidence or arguments regarding design defects that did not allegedly cause or contribute to Dixon's accident. [Doc. No. 98]. Dixon filed an opposition memorandum. [Doc. No. 109]. Defendants replied. [Doc. No. 127].

II. AND ANALYSIS

A. The CPSC Report and the ...


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