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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Juan Costilla lost his leg while operating a forklift that rolled over. Costilla sued Crown Equipment, who made the forklift, arguing the forklift’s design was defective. He argued his injury would have been prevented if the forklift had a door. At trial, Crown introduced into evidence a regulation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and an alert from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, both of which recommend that operators of stand-up type forklifts like the one Costilla was using be trained to exit from the truck by stepping backward if a tip over occurs. Because a door in the back would prevent a user from stepping backward, doors were not recommended. The jury found the forklift’s design was not defective. It also found that Costilla was negligent, so a take-nothing judgment was entered against Costilla. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court confirms that when he alleged a design defect, Costilla had the burden to establish that a safer alternative design for the forklift existed. His theory was that a safer design would have included a door. Crown introduced the OSHA and NIOSH evidence to counter this assertion. The evidence was relevant, the court concludes. Whether a door to keep the operator inside the forklift compartment was a safer alternative design was a “fact of consequence” to the determination of the cause of action. The jury could consider whether Costilla’s proposed design would impose an equal or greater risk of harm under other circumstances. The court does not found that the probative value of the two reports was outweighed by their prejudicial effect. The court rejects Costilla’s argument that Sprankle v. Bower Ammonia & Chemical Co., 824 F.2d 409 (5th Cir. 1987), stands for the proposition that entering OSHA standards into evidence is an abuse of discretion. The court stresses that what is an abuse of discretion in one case — as it was in Sprankle — is not necessarily an abuse of discretion in another — as it was not in this case. The court then upholds the trial court’s refusal to offer Costilla’s proposed jury instruction on manufacturing standards. The court finds that because the issue in this case was that a design defect was the producing cause of Costilla’s injury, manufacturing standards were not necessary to enable the jury to render a proper verdict on a controlling question in the case. The court also finds Crown’s expert’s testimony was relevant to issues to be decided by the jury, and that the expert’s testimony was credible. The fact that the expert talked in terms of “possibilities” does not taint his testimony. The expert testified regarding his procedures and methodology for both his audit of Crown’s design process and his computer simulation. He offered more than his subjective opinion or unsupported speculation regarding Crown’s design process and whether Costilla’s alternative design was safer. OPINION:Mark Whittington, J.; Whittington, Bridges and Francis, JJ.

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