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Speyer and Renda Win Appeal, Securing Dismissal of Products Liability Action

Buffalo, NY — April 2017 — In Pacy v. Cowen Holdings, Inc., et al, the plaintiff suffered injuries to her arm while using a commercial washing machine manufactured by our client, Alliance Laundry Systems. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that while attempting to remove a load of towels from the washer, her right arm became entangled and twisted.

The plaintiff alleged that the washing machine was defectively designed based upon a theory that the washer door was able to be opened while the drum inside the washing machine was still spinning. Firm member Thomas J. Speyer and senior associate Katie Renda initially secured an order for summary judgment from Honorable Paul B. Wojtaszek on the grounds that the machine was not defectively designed and the case was dismissed.

On appeal, the Fourth Department affirmed the decision of Justice Wojtaszek, holding that the defense met its burden by establishing that the washing machine at issue was a safe product because it was equipped with two safety devices. Plaintiff was unable to establish that industry standards required the additional safety device promulgated by the plaintiff's expert and, as such, plaintiff was unable to raise a question of fact.

The Fourth Department also addressed plaintiff's claims grounded in failure to warn, holding that the plaintiff's deposition testimony established that she was aware of the danger of the moving drum inside the washing machine. Alliance therefore had no duty to warn the plaintiff of a danger of which she was already aware.

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