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Flanagan v. Martfive, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

April 10, 2017

MICHAEL FLANAGAN, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
MARTFIVE, LLC, a Minnesota Limited Liability Company doing business as HURRYCANE, LLC, ET AL. Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court is a Motion for Partial Judgment Summary filed by Defendants. Doc. no. 84. Plaintiff filed a Response and Brief in Opposition to the Motion (doc. nos. 89, 90). The matter is now ripe for adjudication.

         I. Introduction

         Michael Flanagan (“Plaintiff”) and his wife planned to attend a picnic on August 23, 2014. That day, Plaintiff asked his wife to purchase a HurryCane, a foldable, self-standing cane, for him from a Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. (“BB&B”) store in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff did not read the HurryCane's packaging or instructions and left for the picnic minutes after his wife brought it home. As he descended steps with the HurryCane, he fell. He claimed that the HurryCane unintentionally folded and caused his fall.

         Plaintiff brought this diversity action against businesses that made, supplied, advertised, or sold the HurryCane. These entities include HurryCane, LLC f/k/a ZOOMWORKS, LLC f/k/a martFIVE LLC, Marketing Architects, Inc., and BB&B (collectively the “Defendants”). The Defendants filed a Partial Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 84) targeting the following claims in Plaintiff's amended complaint: breach of express warranty (contained within counts IV and VIII), manufacturing defect (contained within counts II and VI), and failure to warn (counts III and VII). (Docket No. 43 at 9, 11, 14, 18, 20, 22). Because Plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence to create genuine issues of material fact requiring a jury trial on these claims, the Court will grant Defendants' Partial Motion for Summary Judgment.

         II. Facts

         Before August 23, 2014, the day of the accident, Plaintiff had not: used a HurryCane; talked to anyone who used one; independently researched the product; or read any literature, reviews, or news articles about it. (Docket No. 92-1 at 44:22-45:16). The HurryCane piqued Plaintiff's interest because television advertisements showed that it could stand on its own. (Docket No. 92-1 at 44:6-13). On August 23, 2014, Plaintiff asked his wife to buy one for him at BB&B in Bethel Park. (Id. at 42:11-17; 43:18-44:2). He thought the HurryCane's self-standing ability would be helpful at a picnic he and his wife planned to attend that day. (Id. at 44:6-9). Plaintiff did not know if BB&B employees talked to his wife about the HurryCane or if she observed any HurryCane literature or advertisements while there. (Id. at pp. 46-47). Neither Plaintiff nor Mrs. Flanagan spoke to Defendants' employees about the HurryCane before August 23, 2014. (Id. at 47:17-48:7).

         During his deposition, Plaintiff did not remember who removed the HurryCane from its package. (Id. at 49:17-18). He did not read anything on the HurryCane's box or any literature within its box and could not describe what its box looked like. (Id. at 50:7-50:12; 50:17-22). However, he recalled that the HurryCane could support 200 or 300 pounds. (Id. at 50:13-16). An assertion on its packaging states that the HurryCane “[w]ithstands up to 350 pounds.” (Docket No. 92-3 at 1). Plaintiff admitted that he did not look at any warnings or instructions before using his HurryCane. (Docket No. 92-1 at 51:20-52:1). Defendants' counsel asked why he did not look at the materials accompanying the HurryCane:

Q: But the fact that you didn't read any warranties or instructions, was that because there wasn't [sic] any included, or you just chose not to look into it [sic]?
A: Chose not to look into it.

(Id. at 52:9-13).

         The Flanagans left minutes after Mrs. Flanagan brought home the HurryCane. (Id. at 54:1-7). Plaintiff first used his HurryCane as he left his house to go to a picnic. (Id. at 53:16- 19). It appeared to be in good working order and without visible defects. (Id. at 53:5-10).

         Plaintiff, using his HurryCane, successfully traversed a walkway leading from the front of his house to two concrete steps. (Id. at 54:21-55:1). He then fell while walking down the concrete steps with his HurryCane. (Id. at 55:17-23). Plaintiff blamed the HurryCane for his fall because it “collapsed” when he placed it on the ground. (Id. at 63:20-64:7). However, he did not know if the HurryCane was broken, cracked, or missing parts after he fell while using it. (Id. at 65:14- 19). Plaintiff's left patella fractured and his right patella ruptured due to his fall. (Id. at 71:7-10).

         III. ...


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