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Yazdani v. BMW

Area of Law:

Product liability, negligence, failure to provide adequate warning, strict liability. This matter arose from fire and smoke damage caused by a BMW motorcycle that was left running and caught on fire.

Grounds:

BMW moved to preclude the testimony of plaintiffs’ expert, William J. Vigilante, Jr., contesting his methodology and the reliability of his opinions.

Outcome:

The court concluded that the expert testimony passes the muster of Rule 702, but excluded parts of it for lack of relevancy.

Analysis:

The expert opined that a fire hazard warning should have been conspicuously placed directly on the motorcycle, rather than just in the manual. The court concluded that the expert used an acceptable methodology to reach his conclusion that the warning needed to be conspicuously placed on the motorcycle. His methodology included a review of various peer-reviewed books, product safety standards, and manuals and warnings provided with other motorcycles. It was not necessary for the expert to engage in a broader analysis of all the other information in the manual because instead, BMW could test his opinions through rigorous cross-examination.

Based on lack of relevance, the court precluded the expert from testifying that: (1) it was unreasonable for BMW to rely on its dealers to convey safety warnings; and (2) it was unreasonable for BMW to rely on the manual because second-hand users are unlikely to obtain the manual and users are unlikely to read all or parts of the manual.