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Laing v. American Honda Motor Co.

628 So. 2d 196 (1993)

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Laing v. American Honda Motor Co.

Louisiana Court of Appeal

628 So. 2d 196 (1993)

Facts

Thomas Laing (plaintiff) suffered a serious brain injury while riding an all-terrain vehicle, or ATV, manufactured by American Honda Motor Company, Inc. (Honda) (defendant). On the day of the accident, Laing drove the ATV to cotton fields on his farm to see if they were ready for planting. Laing was driving along a path between the fields when he encountered a large clod of dirt. Laing did not remember what happened next, but somehow, Laing and the ATV ended up approximately 20 to 30 yards away from the clod. Based on accident-reconstruction efforts, Laing asserted that he was traveling between 15 and 25 miles per hour and that the ATV flipped over when he tried to turn to avoid the clod. Honda asserted that Laing was traveling closer to 35 miles per hour and that he drove over the clod, lost control of the ATV, and went airborne. Laing sued Honda to recover for his injuries, claiming that the ATV was unreasonably dangerous for normal farm use. Prior to trial, Laing filed a motion in limine to preclude Honda from presenting expert testimony on a comparative-risk study. The expert planned to testify that the risk of riding on an ATV must be compared to other similar recreational activities, including snowmobiling, go-carting, and bungee jumping. The court granted Laing’s motion, concluding that the comparative-risk analysis would confuse the jury by introducing unnecessary issues into the trial. The court said that the jury should evaluate the risks of riding on the ATV without comparison to the other activities. Following trial, the jury ruled in Laing’s favor and awarded damages. Honda appealed to the Louisiana Court of Appeal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)

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