A federal judge in a major product liability case litigated by Ross Feller Casey has ruled that a man who suffered third-degree burns when his Sears riding lawnmower exploded can sue the retailer and the engine’s maker for numerous claims, including strict liability and punitive damages.
The tragic incident occurred in May 2013 shortly after Daniel Fassett noticed a sputtering in his Sears Craftsman ZT 7000 zero-turn rear-engine riding mower. Fassett, of Towanda, Pa., drove the mower into his garage, turned it off and lifted the seat. He noticed the fuel tank had expanded. When he began turning the gas cap fuel erupted and doused Fassett and the mower. Both were set on fire. He ran into the yard and began rolling on the grass to extinguish the flames. He was airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital and was hospitalized for several months, required several skin grafts and lost his right leg below the knee to amputation.
The suit, among other things, claims the mower was designed, manufactured and sold in a defective manner and that it didn’t include adequate safely devices.
Sears and the maker of the engine, Kohler Co., had sought to have key components of the suit dismissed, including possible punitive damages. But U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann of the Middle District rejected that, and most other defense request in Fassett v. Sears Holdings.
Matt Casey, a founding partner of Ross Feller Casey and the lawyer for the Fassetts, told The Legal Intelligencer that the ruling “permits us to move forward now toward our ultimate goal of having a jury decide Mr. Fassett's case."
"Mr. Fassett is a young man catastrophically injured as a consequence of what we will prove were avoidable defects in his lawn tractor,” added Casey in the front-page story that ran in the nation’s oldest legal journal. Read the story below:
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