Sample Instructions 3 Car Products Liability Case

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Jury Instruction

The law regarding this case is contained in the instructions I will give to you. You must consider the Court's instructions as a whole, not picking out some instructions and disregarding others.

It is your duty to resolve this case by determining the facts and following the law given in the instructions. Your verdict must not be based upon speculation, prejudice, or sympathy. Each party, whether a corporation or an individual, should receive your same fair consideration.

You will decide what facts have been proven. Facts may be proven by evidence or reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence. Evidence consists of the testimony of witnesses and of exhibits admitted by the court. You should consider all the evidence without regard to which party produced it. You may use common sense gained from your experiences in life in evaluating what you see and hear during trial.

You are the only judges of the credibility of the witnesses. You will decide the weight to be given to the testimony of each of them. In evaluating the credibility of a witness you may consider that witness' ability and opportunity to observe, memory, manner, interest, bias, qualifications, experience, and any previous inconsistent statement or act by the witness concerning an issue important to the case.

An opening statement is what an attorney expects the evidence will be. A closing argument is given at the conclusion of the case and is a summary of what an attorney contends the evidence has shown. If any statement or argument of an attorney is not supported by the law or the evidence you should disregard that statement.

Now that the evidence has concluded, I will further instruct you as to the law and your duties. I have not meant to indicate any opinion as to the facts of this case by any of my rulings, remarks, or instructions.

The testimony of Dr Bruce Bauer was presented by the reading of his testimony. You should give this testimony the same consideration you would give it had the witness personally appeared in court.

A fact may be proved by circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence consists of the proof of facts or circumstances which leads to a reasonable inference of the existence of other facts sought to be established.

The plaintiff claims that she was injured by the front passenger seat of her parent's Lincoln Navigator and that there existed in the front passenger seat of the Lincoln Navigator at the time it left the control of the defendant a condition which made the front passenger seat unreasonably dangerous in one or more of the following respects:

The front passenger seat was designed and manufactured in a manner that the adjustment rail and floor bracket had sharp and aggressive edges and/or hard edges that were capable of producing occupant injury and either, (a) were not guarded by location in that they / were exposed when the passenger seat was in its far most rear position or (b) were not guarded by covering.

The plaintiff further claims that one or more of the foregoing was a proximate cause of her injuries.

The defendant denies that any of the claimed conditions of the front passenger seat existed at the time the Navigator left its control; denies that any claimed condition of the front passenger seat made the front passenger seat unreasonably dangerous; and denies that any claimed condition of the front passenger seat was a proximate cause of plaintiff's injuries.

The defendant denies that the plaintiff sustained damages to the extent claimed.

When I use the expression “unreasonably dangerous” in these instructions, I mean unsafe when put to a use that is reasonably foreseeable considering the nature and function of the front passenger seat of the Navigator.

When I use the expression “proximate cause,” I mean a cause which, in natural or probable sequence, produced the injury complained of. It need not be the only cause, nor the last or nearest cause. It is sufficient if it concurs with some other cause acting at the same time, which in combination with it, causes the injury.

The plaintiff has the burden of proving each of the following propositions as to any one of the conditions claimed by plaintiff:

First, that the condition claimed by the plaintiff as stated to you in these instructions existed in the front passenger seat of the Navigator;

Second, that the condition made the front passenger seat of the Navigator unreasonably dangerous;

Third, that the condition existed at the time the Navigator left the control of the defendant;

Fourth, that the plaintiff was injured;

Fifth, that the condition of the front passenger seat of the Navigator was a proximate cause of plaintiff's injuries.

If you find from your consideration of all the evidence that each of these propositions has been proved, then your verdict should be for the plaintiff. But if, on the other hand, you find from your consideration of all the evidence that any one of these propositions has not been proved, then your verdict should be for the defendant.

When I say that a party has the burden of proof on any proposition, or use the expression “if you find,” or “if you decide,” I mean you must be persuaded, considering all the evidence in the case, that the proposition on which he has the burden of proof is more probably true than not true.

It is the duty of an automobile manufacturer to furnish a product which is in a reasonably safe condition when put to a use that was reasonably foreseeable considering its nature and intended function.

Evidence concerning the contents of the Lincoln Navigator Owners Manual is to be considered by you solely as it relates to the reasonably foreseeable uses of the vehicle's front passenger seat considering its nature and function. It should not be considered for any other purpose. The test of the product's function is objective in nature, meaning those uses which are reasonably foreseeable by a reasonable person, and is not controlled by, or limited to, uses which the manufacturer intended.

There was in force in the State of Illinois at the time of the occurrence in question a certain statute known as the Child Passenger Protection Act, which provided that:

When any person is transporting a child in this State under the age of 4 years in a [vehicle] on the roadways, streets or highways of this State, such person shall be responsible for providing for the protection of such child by properly securing him or her in a child restraint system.

You may consider the requirements of this statute in determining whether it was reasonably foreseeable that a child under the age of 4 would be an occupant of a parked vehicle and not secured in a child restraint system.

If you decide that the plaintiff has proved all the propositions of her case, then it is not a defense that care was used in the manufacture of the product.

Contributory negligence of the parent is not an issue in this case.

If you decide for the defendant on the question of liability , you will have no occasion to consider the question of damages.

If you decide for the plaintiff on the question of liability , you must then fix the amount of money which will reasonably and fairly compensate her for any of the following elements of damages proved by the evidence to have resulted from the unreasonably dangerous condition of the product , taking into consideration the nature, extent and duration of the injury.

The disfigurement resulting from the injury.

The pain and suffering experienced and suffering reasonably certain to be experienced in the future as a result of the injuries.

The reasonable expense of necessary medical care, treatment and services received.

Whether any of these elements of damages has been proved by the evidence is for you to determine.

If you find that the plaintiff is entitled to damages arising in the future because of injuries, you must determine the amount of these damages which will arise in the future.

If these damages are permanent in nature, then in computing these damages you may consider how long the plaintiff is likely to live.

According to a table of mortality in evidence, the life expectancy of a person aged 5 years is 75.5 years. This figure is not conclusive. It is the average life expectancy of persons who have reached the age of 5. It may be considered by you in connection with other evidence relating to the probable life expectancy of the plaintiff in this case, including evidence of his occupation, health, habits, and other activities, bearing in mind that some persons live longer and some persons less than the average.

When you retire to the jury room you will first select a foreperson. He or she will preside during your deliberations.

Your verdict must be unanimous.

Forms of verdicts are supplied with these instructions. After you have reached your verdict, fill in and sign the appropriate form of verdict and return it into court. Your verdict must be signed by each of you. You should not write or mark upon this or any of the other instructions given to you by the court.

If you find for Cassidy Erickson and against Ford Motor Company, then you should use Verdict Form A.

If you find for Ford Motor Company and against Cassidy Erickson, then you should use Verdict Form B.

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