Bradley v. Ameristep, Inc., No. 14-6087 (6th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Bradley purchased ratchet straps to use exclusively on a hunting treestand. In 2008, Bradley used the straps to secure his treestand, exposed to the elements, from early September to mid-October. Bradley then stored the treestand and straps in his garage until 2011. He did not use the treestand until a few months after setting it up. He inspected the treestand and straps before climbing into the stand. Within minutes of Bradley’s ascent, the straps broke, causing Bradley to fall and sustain injuries. Bradley’s suit allegied strict product liability, negligent design and manufacture, strict liability failure to warn, negligent failure to warn, loss of consortium, and violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The court excluded the testimony of two plaintiffs’ experts, one of whom would have testified that the straps failed to include an ultraviolet light inhibitor that would have reduced the rate of polymer degradation due to sunlight exposure and that the defendants failed to warn and instruct consumers how to recognize when the straps were no longer safe, finding the expert’s experience “with the webbing material . . . sparse.” The court dismissed the failure-to-warn claims on other grounds. The Sixth Circuit reversed, finding the expert qualified and that the court erred by not allowing Bradley to proceed under the consumer expectation test, relying on lay testimony about objective facts and circumstances surrounding the straps’ failure.