Covell v. Bell Sports Inc., No. 10-3860 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
A 36 year-old schoolteacher sustained serious brain injuries when he was struck by a car while bicycling to work. His parents, appointed as his legal guardians, filed a products liability suit against the manufacturer of the bicycle helmet their son wore during the collision. The district court permitted the manufacturer to introduce expert testimony, based in part upon the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission's Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets (16 C.F.R. 1203). Ultimately, experts for both sides agreed that the CPSC Standard forms the starting point for any bicycle helmet design, and that the helmet at issue satisfied the CPSC Standard in all respects. The court instructed the jury pursuant to sections 1 and 2 of the Restatement (Third) of Torts. The Court also instructed the jury that, in determining whether the helmet was defective, it could consider evidence of standards or customs in the bicycle helmet industry, including the CPSC Standard. The jury returned a verdict for the defense. The Third Circuit affirmed, holding that the jury instructions and admission of the CPSC standard represented Pennsylvania law.