Halsey et al v. AGCO Corporation et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: (1) 124 Motion to Stay Dfts' Motions for Summary Judgment is DENIED. (2) 78 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. (3) 97 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. (4) 107 Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED. Signed by Judge Joseph M. Hood on 10/20/2017.(SCD)cc: COR
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
CENTRAL DIVISION at LEXINGTON
SCOTT HALSEY, et al.,
Civil Case No.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the parties’ Motions
for Summary Judgment, the responses thereto, and the replies
made in further support thereof [DE 78, 125; 97, 112, 120; 107,
115, 117, 130, 134].1
other negligence was the causation of Scotty Halsey’s injury or
that any warranty has been breached.
For the reasons stated
below, Plaintiffs’ claims will be dismissed.
The Court considers, as well, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Stay Defendants’ Motions
for Summary Judgment [DE 124, 126, 136], in which they insist that further
discovery is warranted in this matter, despite the expiration of the
discovery period and the conclusion of the motion practice concerning the
discovery practice in this matter.
The Court has already overruled
Plaintiffs’ objections to the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation
[DE 91, 100, 138] concerning Plaintiffs’ motion to compel and motion for
extension of time to complete discovery [DE 62, 68].
Plaintiff has had
plenty of opportunity for discovery and has failed to show by “affidavit or
declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to
justify its opposition.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d). The motion will be denied.
“The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ.
particular parts of materials in the record, including . . .
affidavits. . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A).
dispute of material fact exists “if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct.
2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The Court views all evidence in the
determination. Livingston Christian Sch. v. Genoa Charter Twp.,
858 F.3d 996, 1001 (6th Cir. 2017)
There is no dispute that Scotty Halsey purchased a new
Massey Ferguson 4600 tractor designed and manufactured by AGCO
Corporation and outfitted with tires designed and manufactured
by Titan Tire Corporation on July 27, 2015.
Further, there is
complains while operating that tractor, which rolled over and at
which time he struck his arm on the window.
Rather, the Court
examines the evidence for proof which demonstrates that it is
probable – more likely than not – that some action or inaction
in design or manufacture of or the failure to warn concerning
the tire and tractor on the part of Defendants caused the roll
concludes that it does not.
“‘Courts have distinguished three types of product defect:
defects or unreasonable risks of harm inherent in the product's
design; and (3) warning defects or unreasonable risks of harm
that could have been reduced or avoided by the provisions of
Indus., No. CIV.A. 05-102-JBC, 2008 WL 89932, at *3 (E.D. Ky.
Jan. 8, 2008) (quoting Edwards v. Hop Sin, Inc., 140 S.W.3d 13,
15 (Ky. Ct. App. 2003)).
Nonetheless, as in any negligence
case, Plaintiffs must demonstrate duty, breach, causation, and
See Jones v. Hutchinson Mfg., Inc., 502 S.W.2d 66, 69-
70 (Ky. 1973) (breach, causation, and injury analyses are the
same under a negligence theory in a products liability case as
strict liability reduces a plaintiff’s burden of proof and the
burden is higher to sustain a negligence claim with respect to
an allegedly defective product).
Frequently, expert testimony
is required in negligence cases in which plaintiffs allege a
product defect. See Caniff v. CSX Transp. Inc., 438 S.W.3d 368,
374 (Ky. 2014) (“Experts are often required in complex cases in
which a jury will not understand, through common knowledge or
experience, the intricacies involved in the negligence claim.”).
In the instant matter, Plaintiffs allege that the tractor’s
tire was somehow insufficient to perform the types of functions
circumstances which existed at the time of the purported tire
and rim failure and that this failure caused the tractor to
typically carried by them.”
[DE 1-2, ¶26.] In his testimony,
Halsey claimed that, because of this, the “tire blew.
Rim – I
think that the rim, where the tire – something gave way, it
[Depo. of Scotty Halsey, DE 58-9 at 97.]
According to the relevant Titan Specification Sheet, the
Titan tires on Halsey’s tractor have a maximum load capacity of
capacity for the front axle of 7,496 lbs.
The tractor itself
weighed 6,944 lbs., the MF 900X Loader Model 921 with which it
was equipped weighed 961.215 lbs., and the 4.5’ by 5’ roll of
hay that Halsey was hauling on the tractor at the time of the
rollover weighed an estimated 1,200 lbs.
Further, while the MF
4600 Owner’s Manual warns that use of the machine may present
result in DEATH OR VERY SERIOUS INJURY” and provides a general
warning against driving on slopes, it provides no information
warning the specific concerns about various grades of inclines
or the maximum load capacity of the tractor when equipped with
the tires in question.
Nor does it warn against the danger of
happened with the rim or the tire prior to the rollover is not
evidence of a defect in design or advice which ultimately caused
the rollover under the circumstances and, then, his injuries.
Nor is it enough when coupled with the conclusory assertion that
the tires were underrated and inadequate for the loads typically
question that can be calculated from the figures provided in the
MF 4600 Owner’s Manual using simple mathematics.
tractor rolled over because its tires were underrated and for
the load they and the tractor bore on the day of his injuries.
inferred from the evidence presented in support of Plaintiffs’
In design defect cases, a product is
considered defective only when “it is made
design.” Estate of Bigham v. DaimlerChrysler
Corp., 462 F.Supp.2d. 766, 771 (E.D.Ky.
2006) (quoting Jones v. Hutchison Mfg.,
Inc., 502 S.W.2d 66, 69 (Ky. 1973)); see
also Montgomery Elevator Co. v. McCollough
by McCollough, 676 S.W.2d 776, 780 (Ky.
1984) (plaintiff must prove the product was
condition of his product at the time he
sells it, and the question is whether the
product creates “such a risk” of an accident
of the general nature of the one in question
“that an ordinarily prudent company engaged
in the manufacture” of such a product “would
not have put it on the market.” Id. (quoting
Nichols v. Union Underwear Co., Inc., 602
S.W.2d 429, 433 (Ky. 1980)). . . . Because a
warning can make a product reasonably safe,
“a product may be unreasonably dangerous in
design, unless accompanied by a warning that
it should not be put to a certain use.” C &
S Fuel, Inc v. Clark Equipment Co, 552
F.Supp. 340, 347 (E.D.Ky. 1982). “The duty
to warn extends to the dangers likely to
product.” Morales v. American Honda Motor
Co, Inc., 71 F.3d 531, 537 (6th Cir. 1995).
Jarrett v. Duro-Med Indus., No. CIV.A. 05-102-JBC, 2008 WL 89932
(E.D. Ky. Jan. 8, 2008) (Coffman, J.).
“Under Kentucky law, a
plaintiff has the burden of establishing causation in claims of
negligence and strict liability” in a defective design action
and “must produce evidence to justify a reasonable inference of
probability rather than mere possibility that the alleged design
defects were responsible for her injuries.” Id. (citing Stewart
v. General Motors Corp., 222 F.Supp.2d 845, 848, 850 (W.D.Ky.
expert proof is necessary to show that the alleged defect was a
substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injury. Burgett v.
Troy-Bilt LLC, 970 F. Supp. 2d 676, 683 (E.D. Ky. 2013). Opinion
layperson. Stevens v. Keller Ladders, 1 Fed. Appx. 452, 458 (6th
Cir. 2001). Opinion testimony is also required to support a
plaintiff’s “failure to warn” strict liability claim to provide
warning. See West v. KKI, LLC, 300 S.W.3d 184, 196-97 (Ky. Ct.
The case before this Court is distinguishable from Jarrett
v. Duro-Med Indus. upon which the Halseys rely to argue that no
expert evidence is necessary to support their claim that the
proximate cause of their injuries was an inadequate warning of a
potential rollover danger for the AGCO tractor equipped with the
Titan tires in question.
In Jarrett, the plaintiff was injured
in a tip-over incident involving a transport wheelchair missing
one of two handbrakes with which it was designed and sold.
light pressure when engaging the wheel brakes and use of both
wheel brakes on a wheelchair would have prevented the type of
tipping incident in which the plaintiff was injured and expert
Thus, in Jarrett, the limited “inquir[y was] within
require[s] the juror to determine what actions the user of the
[product] would have taken had those warnings been in place on
the product.” Jarrett, 2008 WL 89932, at *6.
otherwise, that a particular use of the tractor (on an incline,
bearing loads above a certain weight, etc.) more probably than
unreasonable risk of harm. Rather, they ask the Court and would
ask the jury at trial to simply accept that a rollover is the
tractor under the given circumstances.
The Court declines to do
so and their design defect claim fails as there is no disputed
or undisputed, for that matter, material evidence to support
Nor is the Court persuaded that this is a situation where
the theory of res ipsa loquitur applies to bridge the absence of
evidence of causation and to provide Plaintiffs with relief.
Under Kentucky law, the doctrine of res ipsa
instrumentality producing the injury or
damage is unknown or is not in the exclusive
control of the defendant. Hall v. E. I.
Dupont DeNemours and Company, 142 F.Supp.
applies only where the thing shown speaks of
negligence of the defendant and not merely
the occurrence of an accident. Davies Flying
Service, Inc. v. United States, 114 F.Supp.
776 (W.D.Ky. 1953), Aff'd, 216 F.2d 104 (6th
Cir. 1954). The doctrine does not apply
where the existence of the negligent acts is
not more reasonably probable and where the
proof of occurrence, without more, leaves
the matter resting only to conjecture.
Schroerlucke v. McDaniel Funeral Home, Inc.,
291 S.W.2d 6 (Ky. 1956).
Helton v. Forest Park Baptist Church, 589 S.W.2d 217, 219 (Ky.
Burchett, 419 S.W.2d 577 (Ky. 1967) (explaining three elements
management of defendant; 2) circumstances, according to common
negligent; and 3) plaintiff’s injury must have resulted from the
accident, nor is there a clear inference that the accident would
not have happened absent some negligence on behalf of either
“unseated” from the rim, the finder of fact would need some
expert evidence that overloading of the tires in question by the
tractor and load in question could yield such a result and that,
in turn, the tractor could roll over.
If not, it is simply one
of a series of conjectures, all of which are equally possible in
the absence of some type of proof.
A finder of fact could
equally imagine that the tire was underrated and overwhelmed by
the load, that the tire come into contact with a sharp object on
from the prior day as to change the air pressure inside the
tire, or that someone slashed the tire in an effort to cause an
causation for their claim for design defect or for negligence,
generally, and, here, have failed to offer any evidence that a
failure to design or warn or that only negligence on the part of
Defendants could have caused the rollover in question.
reasonable jury could find that its design or a failure to warn
injured the Halseys. See Jarrett, 2008 WL 89932 (citing Morales
Accordingly, Plaintiffs claims fail and will be
Next, a spouse “may recover damages against a third person
for loss of consortium, resulting from a negligent or wrongful
act of such third person.” KRS § 411.145(2). As Plaintiffs have
not carried their burden of proof or persuasion to demonstrate
Accordingly, Plaintiff Kimberly Halsey’s claim
for loss of consortium must be dismissed, as well.
purpose. AGCO’s express warranty explicitly states that “AGCO
Corporation warrants its new equipment to be free from defects
in material and workmanship at the time of delivery to the first
retail purchaser, renter, or lessee.” Any allegation that AGCO
affirmative evidence that establishes the existence of a defect.
In the absence of such evidence, as explained above, Plaintiffs
cannot bear their burden of producing evidence to support this
essential element of their claim.
AGCO is entitled to summary
In the absence of any proof of an independent warranty
received from Titan when the tractor was purchased, there is no
evidence of any warranty, let alone an express warranty, to be
Accordingly, the breach of warranty claims against
Defendants AGCO and Titan will be dismissed.
Accordingly, for all of the reasons stated above, IT IS
(1) that Plaintiffs’ Motion to Stay Defendants’ Motions for
Summary Judgment [DE 124] is DENIED;
that AGCO Corporation’s Motion for Summary Judgment
[DE 78] is GRANTED;
Judgment [DE 97] is GRANTED;
That Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 107]
This the 20th day of October, 2017.
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