Lawsuit: crossbow maker knew it was dangerous to get fingers in the way

by Walter Olson on September 13, 2012

“Unfortunately for Mr. Korte, as he fired the crossbow, he stuck his thumb in the path of the bow string, which is a major no-no. … Mr. Korte has, of course, filed a lawsuit against Hunter’s Manufacturing Company (d/b/a TenPoint) and Cabela’s Retail.” [Madison County Record via Abnormal Use]

{ 22 comments }

1 John Burgess 09.13.12 at 1:23 am

Should Mr Korte win his suit, I hope he receives a Nerf Crossbow as full and complete settlement for his injuries. And a helmet to wear while outside his home.

2 Titus 09.13.12 at 9:02 am

Surely there’s some sort of limitations problem here: can a product be dangerously defective if its mechanism is 800 years old?

3 mojo 09.13.12 at 11:14 am

“Warning: This object does not have stupidity deflectors.”

4 peter 09.13.12 at 12:50 pm

Breaking news. knives are sharp, fire is hot, rocks are heavy and water is wet

5 Ron Miller 09.13.12 at 1:43 pm

Would the outrage here change at all if there was a standard in the industry to making a crossbow safely that costs $.25 and this company failed to put it on the device. Or those facts would change nothing for you?

(Really, you need Paul Ryan on your side. Half of the bills he got through Congress were related to archery. I’m sure he could pass a “no archery defective design lawsuit” bill in a jiffy.)

6 gitarcarver 09.13.12 at 3:16 pm

Ron,

Instead of dealing with a hypothetical, let’s for once stay with facts on this case. Does the fact the crossbow was fitted with TenPoint’s “Grip Safety” which prevents the thumb being in the way of the bowstring unless the customer makes a decision to actively bypass the safety device matter? Does that set of actual facts change nothing for you?

Those facts, more than your hypothetical, matter to me.

7 gasman 09.13.12 at 3:32 pm

Until March of this year it would appear that crossbow hunting was not legal in Wisconsin.

8 Ron Miller 09.13.12 at 3:36 pm

Well, Gitar, I disagree. Most people reading this blog post have zero appreciation for the nuances of this safety of this particular product and more about the larger implications of what it means. I mean, I think we almost all agree on that. Walter did not post this because he wanted to make a archery point – he posted it to make a larger point about were we are as a society. Someone stop me if I’m wrong…

So… I asked the more relevant question here. For the answer to your questions, you should visit:

archeryforpeoplewhocantseetheforestforthetrees.com

You will love the site, Gitar.

9 gitarcarver 09.13.12 at 4:21 pm

Well Ron, I disagree.

I don’t think the nuances of a particular product are particularly relevant when 1) there is a massive warning from the manufacturer on the correct use of the device and 2) there is a safety device on the item that the owner had to consciously bypass in order to get hurt.

While I am not nearly the same level of mind reader you are, it seems to me that this post is typical of being “overlawyered.” The user ignored warnings and bypassed a safety device and is now suing the maker of the product.

That is the point of the post, Ron.

As for the “more relevant question,” your point there is the same as the site you gave – nonexistent.

Instead of dealing with hypotheticals, lets deal with the facts of this case. After don’t you usually ask people to know the facts before making a determination on a case? How is it that the facts of this case are not relevant to you?

How is any company responsible when a person ignores warnings on a product? How is any company responsible for a consumer deliberately bypassing the safety device that would have prevented the very injury he sustained?

Instead of going off on tangents, stay with the facts.

10 LTEC 09.13.12 at 4:47 pm

I followed the links and downloaded the crossbow manual. There is indeed a page with a whole lot of safety warnings. The problem is, just about EVERY product has such a page. My cheap point-and-shoot camera has a huge number of warnings as well — e.g. don’t swing it around by the cord or it could go flying and hurt someone.

I suspect my camera is a good deal safer than a crossbow. Something is wrong here.

11 wfjag 09.13.12 at 4:57 pm

@gasman:
“Until March of this year it would appear that crossbow hunting was not legal in Wisconsin.”

But Paul Ryan couldn’t toss Grannies off the cliff fast enough, so Scott Walker and the Repubs enacted a Grannie Cross-Bow season. Then Korte went and shot his own thumb off. He was so distraught that he had to be hospitalized and he was declared incompetent. His Grannie was appointed Guardian. She brought a Class Action on behalf of all Digit-Challenged Cross Bow Owners. The proposed settlement provided for attorneys fees of a $Gagillion, and the class members will get a coupon entitling them to a discount on a thumb replacement operation at The Oshkosh Finger and Thumb Emporium. While cross bow hunting remains legal in Wis, the remaining manufacturers have moved to Someplacer-stan, into a facility which formerly manufactured products for Apple and found a local union-adverse labor supply firm. From now on you’ll have to order cross bows via the Internet, answer a questionaire developed by the UN, undergo an in-home inspection by TSP, and make payment by providing your bank account number to some guy in Nigeria. Grannie and the attorney found love and moved to a small European nation that does not have an extradition treaty with the US, but which does have lovely Chateauxs for the newly wealthy. So, it’s worked out well for everyone.

.

12 Ron Miller 09.13.12 at 9:40 pm

Gitarcarver, I don’t think you get the point at all. But that is okay. It is all about crossbows, which is a topic everyone on here is qualified to render expert testimony about. What might be helpful is to get a list of things in which you do not consider yourself an expert.

Wfjag, seriously, quit your job today and get a job writing comedy. Just really funny. No way I stopped about 1/4 of the way down.

13 Richard Nieporent 09.14.12 at 9:20 am

Would the outrage here change at all if there was a standard in the industry to making a crossbow safely that costs $.25 and this company failed to put it on the device.

What I find truly amazing is the brilliance of lawyers. Not only are they experts in the law but they are also capable of redesigning products so that they are absolutely safe. In fact if we gave over all manufacturing to lawyers there would never be a single individual who was injured using any product and it would all be accomplished for less than 1 dollar.

14 gitarcarver 09.14.12 at 11:00 am

No Ron, I do get the point.

You don’t have an answer the the initial set of questions and facts so you have to come up with some hypothetical to make it seem the company should do more because in your mind, no one is ever accountable for not following instructions, warning labels, warnings, or even deliberately taking steps to avoid a safety device that would have prevented the very injury this guy caused.

That’s that point.

15 Ron Miller 09.14.12 at 1:16 pm

The better path would be if we have Overlawyered commenters decide on whether it is a case. That would be better than lawyers, sure.

But, Richard, that is not how cases are made. Lawyers don’t redesign products. What you need for a case to ever make it to a jury is someone who is in the industry, who understands the science and safety of product at issue, and can give an opinion that the design was defective because a serious risk of injury could have been avoided in a way that is cost effective. A lawyer’s view and $3.50 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

My concern – lost on Gitarcarver – is that there was an immediate rush to judgment on the facts of this case. Gun to my head, I’ll be this is not a viable defective design claim. But unless you are an expert on this like Gitarcarver is (again need to see the list of what he is not an expert in), then you just don’ t know.

I find prejudging cases without more information to be a concern.

16 peter 09.14.12 at 1:55 pm

could someone please point out what is this standard that makes a crossbow safe, that costs 25c.

I am not a crossbow manufacturer so I am not the expert here.

Ron?

17 Richard Nieporent 09.14.12 at 4:15 pm

But, Richard, that is not how cases are made. Lawyers don’t redesign products.

I guess sarcasm is lost on you, Ron.

What you need for a case to ever make it to a jury is someone who is in the industry, who understands the science and safety of product at issue, and can give an opinion that the design was defective because a serious risk of injury could have been avoided in a way that is cost effective.

And these selfless individuals just appear in court to give their expert opinions for free for the good of society on how the product could have been designed to save injuries and lives. Or did you leave out the fact that they were hired by lawyers at $500 or more per hour to testify that if only those evil manufacturers were not so greedy they would have listened to these experts and spent the extra 0.25 cents to prevent all of those injuries.

18 Ron Miller 09.14.12 at 9:21 pm

Let’s be clear: I just made up the 25c. The point is that no one heard any actual – you know – evidence before jumping to conclusions. To the man with a hammer, everything is a nail. (Cue Gitarcarver to tell a story about the last thing he built. Let me guess. You build things are are something of an expert about it. Amirite?)

Can any of these experts ever make sense in any cases, Richard? Or they all just across the board liars? Is it just so obvious to you that they are just making it up? Please explain how you are able to figure this out so easily where jurors get so confounded. What do you have that the American people don’ t and what can we all do to gain the wisdom you have to see through it all?

19 Bumper 09.14.12 at 11:34 pm

Ron,

1. The stated purpose of this blog is to chronicle the high cost of our legal system.

2. The cost is high because we have become a sue happy country because no matter what happens to anybody it is always going to be someone else’s fault and that someone else, regardless of the facts, should be made to pay for their sins.

3. There is an abundance of lawyers ready to see that number two is carried out to the extreme, which results in the need for number one

4. In almost, if not all, legislative bodies a preponderance of the members are lawyers, ego the sausages (laws) that come out of their meat grinders called legi sessions are slanted toward continuing this trend.

5. Studies have shown that the lower the ratio of lawyers to the general population the more lawsuits are filed, in America the ratio is already ridiculously low and yet number five almost always results in more and bigger law schools even though we already have too many lawyers and are desperate for doctors.

6 So there you have it Ron, you and your kind are the problem, not the solution. If you want answers might I suggest a mirror.

7. And finally, if I might pass along a lesson taught to me by our host, character assassinations of other commenters are not only counter productive, but only serve to accentuate the weakness of your argument.

20 Richard Nieporent 09.15.12 at 12:54 am

Can any of these experts ever make sense in any cases, Richard? Or they all just across the board liars? Is it just so obvious to you that they are just making it up? Please explain how you are able to figure this out so easily where jurors get so confounded. What do you have that the American people don’ t and what can we all do to gain the wisdom you have to see through it all?

No it is not a question of them lying, Ron. Rather it is a question of coming up with a different design for the product. Since there are many tradeoffs that go into any product design, it is not difficult for an expert to come up with an alternate way of designing the product that does not have the feature in question. Thus the jury is shown that the product could have been designed differently. What they are not shown is whether the alternate design is something people would want to buy. No product can be completely idiot-proofed. Thus a product does not have to be defective to injure someone who ignores the warning labels and uses it incorrectly.

However, since you sarcastically asked me how you could gain the wisdom I have, let me answer your question. Maybe you could start by providing expert witness services as I do (for computer patent infringement lawsuits that deal with computer communications.) So yes, I do have a little more insight into how expert witnesses operate. Now don’t you feel chagrinned?

21 Ron Miller 09.15.12 at 1:28 pm

That’s just plain wrong. A jury has all of the same facts you have except lots more. Certainly a defense is that this is only way to viably make the product in demand at issue. Juries don’t always get it right on both sides. But, largely, they hold off making a decision. I’m not entirely sure some of the commenters on here (you?) could say the same.

Do I feel chagrinned? Well, I think you are a little full of yourself. You think you have special qualifications in crossbow cases because you serve as an expert in cases involving computers? What else does this qualify you as an expert for? And this makes you smarter than a juror how? Do you feel a little bit chagrined for being called out for being a blowhard? Just a little?

But let’s change it completely. Let’s pretend you were an expert in something, I don’t know, relevant like making crossbows. Do you think criminologists should be the only jurors in a criminal case? Just high tech guys for the Apple-Samsung wars? Here’s the thing: that not how the Constitution works.

You guys love democracy but only if we get stop the dummies from getting a vote at the ballot box or on a jury.

Really Richard? Your expertise make you more qualified than the rest of us to serve or a jury? My goodness. I still can’t get over it.

22 Ted 09.15.12 at 3:03 pm

What LTEC describes is the problem of overwarning, which I’ve written about on several occasions at Point of Law.

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