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AMI 1016 Definition and Inference—Defective Condition

Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil

Ark. Model Jury Instr., Civil AMI 1016
Arkansas Model Jury Instructions-Civil
November 2021 Update
Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil
Chapter 10. Products Liability
AMI 1016 Definition and Inference—Defective Condition
In these instructions, I have used the phrase “defective condition.” Defective condition means the (product) is unsafe for reasonably foreseeable [use][and][or][consumption].
[With respect to proof of a defective condition, if you find that in the normal course of events no (injury)(death)(or)(property damage) would have occurred without some defect, then you are permitted, but not required, to infer that a defect existed.]
NOTE ON USE
Use this instruction with AMI 1008, 1009, and 1013.
Use the second bracketed paragraph when there is an absence of direct proof of a specific defect and plaintiff negates other possible causes of failure of the product, not attributable to the defendant, and thus raises a reasonable inference that the defendant is responsible for the defect.
COMMENT
This instruction is based on Ark. Code Ann. § 16-116-102(2).
For analysis of the requirement that the product be “defective,” see Elk Corp. of Arkansas v. Jackson, 291 Ark. 448, 725 S.W.2d 829 (1987).
It is “an essential constituent of proof” required under the statute that “the product was in a defective condition at the time it left the hands of the particular seller.” Yielding v. Chrysler Motor Co., 301 Ark. 271, 274–75, 783 S.W.2d 353, 355–56 (1990). See Campbell Soup Co. v. Gates, 319 Ark. 54, 889 S.W.2d 750 (1994) (same).
Although proof of a specific defect is normally required, this is not true when “common sense tells us that the accident would not have occurred in the absence of a defect.” Harrell Motors, Inc. v. Flanery, 272 Ark. 105, 612 S.W.2d 727 (1981). See also Yielding, supra, 301 Ark. at 274–76, 783 S.W.2d 355–57 (recognizing doctrine but affirming grant of summary judgment on other grounds); Williams v. Smart Chevrolet Co., 292 Ark. 376, 730 S.W.2d 479 (1987) (applying doctrine and finding its predicates not met); Higgins v. General Motors Corp., 287 Ark. 390, 699 S.W.2d 741 (1985) (same); Southern Co. v. Graham, 271 Ark. 223, 607 S.W.2d 677 (1980) (upholding application of doctrine). For the case to proceed to the jury on such a theory, the plaintiff must produce evidence that tends to negate other causes of the observed product failure. Williams, supra, 292 Ark. at 382–84, 730 S.W.2d at 482–83; Higgins, supra, 287 Ark. at 392, 699 S.W.2d at 743; Campbell Soup Co., supra 319 Ark. at 60–62, 889 S.W.2d at 753–54 (presence of beetle larvae in noodle packets more than a month after manufacture and shipment held not sufficient to negate other causes). See also Kaplon v. Howmedica, Inc., 83 F.3d 263, 266–67 (8th Cir. 1996) (concluding that evidence was insufficient to negate other causes for failure of orthopedic device). For a case noting that the plaintiff is not required to negate other causes when there is proof of a defect, see Nationwide Rentals Co., Inc. v. Carter, 298 Ark. 97, 104, 765 S.W.2d 931, 935 (1989).
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