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Lewis v. Sea Ray Boats, Inc.

Supreme Court of Nevada
65 P.3d 245 (2003)


Leo Gasse bought a used boat manufactured by Sea Ray Boats, Inc. (Sea Ray) (defendant). In addition to the engine, the boat had a small gas generator for air conditioning and other boat features. Gasse and Robin Lewis (plaintiff) slept on the boat, leaving the generator running overnight for air conditioning. The next day, a friend found Gasse dead and Lewis barely alive due to carbon-monoxide fumes that had emanated from the generator overnight. When the boat was initially sold, two warnings were provided about carbon monoxide. The first was written by the manufacturer of the generator, and the other was written by the National Marine Manufacturers’ Association. Both of these warnings focused on the carbon monoxide from the engine exhaust. In addition, when Gasse bought the boat from a Sea Ray dealership, the manager and sales representative warned Gasse about the danger of carbon monoxide. Lewis and the heirs of Gasse (defendants) brought a products-liability suit based on strict liability against Sea Ray. The trial court rejected Lewis’s proposed jury instruction on the adequacy of the warning and instead instructed the jury to use common sense to determine whether the warning was legally sufficient based on the impression that the warning would make on an average consumer of the product. The jury twice asked the judge to define what constituted an adequate warning. In response, the judge simply repeated the prior jury instructions. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Sea Ray. Lewis appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Maupin, J.)

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