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Powers v. Taser International, Inc.
Arizona Court of Appeals
174 P.3d 777 (2007)
Samuel Powers (plaintiff) was a deputy sheriff at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Powers participated in a training that was a prerequisite to be certified to carry an M-26 taser manufactured by Taser International, Inc. (Taser) (defendant). The training materials were prepared by Taser. They warned that the taser could cause uncontrollable muscle contractions causing a person to fall. By falling, a person might suffer cuts, bruises, and abrasions. This warning was based on tests that Taser conducted on animals and more than 3,000 people. The sheriff’s office required that each officer undergoing taser training be exposed to the taser’s electrical force. When Powers was exposed to the taser, his back muscles contracted so violently that one of his spinal discs was fractured. While being treated for his fracture, Powers learned that he had severe osteoporosis and must restrict himself to light duty, making serving as a deputy sheriff impossible. Powers resigned from his job. Powers sued Taser, alleging that the M-26 taser was unreasonably dangerous and lacked adequate warning of its danger. Taser argued that prior to Powers’s injury, it did not know the M-26 could cause muscle contractions strong enough to fracture a bone, and was not required to warn users of a danger Taser didn’t know existed. The trial court instructed the jury to consider whether, at the time it sold the M-26, it knew or should have known that the M-26 was unreasonably dangerous unless accompanied by adequate warnings. Powers objected to this instruction, arguing that the jury should impute to Taser knowledge of the M-26’s danger that Taser learned from Powers’s injuries, and a duty to warn users accordingly. The jury found in favor of Taser. Powers appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Barker, J.)
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