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Alevromagiros v. Hechinger Co.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
993 F.2d 417 (1993)
Restaurant owner Theodore Alevromagiros (plaintiff) directed a contractor to purchase a ladder from a store owned by Hechinger Company (Hechinger) (defendant). The six-foot long stepladder, manufactured by White Metal Rolling and Stamping Corporation (White Metal) (defendant), was successfully used. Several months later, Alevromagiros used the ladder to reset some ceiling tiles. Alevromagiros felt the ladder bending, and two eyewitnesses reported that the ladder twisted, causing Alevromagiros to fall backwards onto the floor, severely fracturing his arm. Alevromagiros brought a products-liability action against Hechinger and White Metal. At trial, the only expert witness to testify was Alevromagiros’s expert, Stanley Kalin, who had a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. Kalin highlighted the buckling of the spreader bars, which connected the front and rear parts of the ladder, and the twisted appearance of the ladder. Kalin pointed out the absence of safety features such as triangular bracing, better-designed spreaders, and stiffeners. Kalin acknowledged on cross-examination that there were advisory industry standards promulgated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Kalin admitted the ladder complied with UL standards but disputed compliance with the ANSI standard. Kalin felt the standards were inadequate in not requiring triangular braces on the rear portion of a ladder. Alevromagiros never introduced and Kalin never examined or tested an undamaged model of the ladder because the local Hechinger store had stopped carrying them. Alevromagiros sought to introduce a competitor’s ladder containing additional safety features, which the judge refused to admit. The trial court granted Hechinger and White Metal’s motion for a directed verdict because Alevromagiros had not established the violation of any standard. Alevromagiros appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Restani, J.)
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