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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The Camachos lived in a 14-by-65 foot trailer home near Weslaco. Joab Camacho’s bedroom was on the eastern end of the home adjacent to the laundry room. Sometime during the early morning hours of Feb. 11, 2003, a fire started in or underneath the laundry room. The fire destroyed the Camachos’ home and killed Joab. Alleging that a defectively designed clothes dryer caused the fire that burned down the home and led to Joab’s death, Joab’s family brought a defective-design suit against Whirlpool. Margarita Camacho testified at trial that on the evening of Feb. 10, 2003, she was washing and drying clothes, and that sometime late in the evening the dryer finished drying a few t-shirts. Margarita opened the dryer door, sat in the living room and dozed off to sleep. She awoke to the smell of smoke and discovered flames coming from the dryer, which was located along a hallway that led to Joab’s bedroom. Margarita screamed that the house was on fire in order to wake up the rest of the family. Joab’s older brother Salvador woke up and helped get Asael and Abisai, Joab’s younger brothers, out of the home. Joab’s father Santos tried to go to Joab’s room but could not proceed through the hallway because of the strength of the flames coming from the dryer. Joab was the only member of the Camacho family who did not escape. Salvador testified that he tried re-entering the home through the living room to retrieve Joab, but the smoke was too intense and hot. He then went around the home on the outside and tried to enter Joab’s room through a window but could not make it inside because of the intense smoke and heat. Salvador called out to Joab and heard him asking for help in a mumbling and tired fashion. Santos tried to enter Joab’s bedroom window as well, but he was nearly overcome by the smoke and heat. The Weslaco fire department was called to the scene at 1:26 a.m. Fire Marshal Arturo Gayton, Jr. arrived at the scene a few hours after the Weslaco fire department was called. Gayton surveyed the home and found no signs of an accelerant. He determined that the fire was accidental and originated in the laundry room based on severity of damage to that portion of the home. Ed Sanchez testified for the Camachos regarding the origin of the fire. Sanchez began examining the Camacho property on Feb. 12, 2003, and continued to investigate the origin of the fire for several days. Sanchez thoroughly examined the Camachos’ home and property and catalogued the debris by saving it in bins and photographing the scene. Sanchez testified that the fire originated in the dryer. Sanchez based his testimony on the amount and character of damage sustained to the laundry room as compared to the remainder of the home. Sanchez testified that the portion of the home that sustains the most damage is likely where the fire originates and that the laundry room sustained the most damage. He examined the wiring and flooring in the laundry room. The wiring did not show signs of “arching,” which would occur if there were an electrical short. Sanchez therefore excluded an electrical short as the cause of the fire. The laundry room was heavily damaged, except for a 2.5-by-2.5 foot square that was not burned. According to Sanchez’s testimony, the unburned square indicates that this area was protected from damage by the dryer. Sanchez also opined that the relatively good condition of the square indicates that the fire did not originate underneath the laundry room. Sanchez’s testimony also addressed the use of gas as a possible cause of the fire. Sanchez testified that trained dogs alerted to the presence of a gas tank in a car near the Camacho home. Sanchez, however, believed that the tank’s integrity had been compromised by the fire, and he ruled out the use of an accelerant as a cause of the fire. Judd Clayton, an electrical engineer, also testified for the Camachos that the dryer was the cause of the fire. According to Clayton, the Whirlpool dryer used by the Camachos leaked lint into the machinery. Clayton testified that lint is combustible and that, if ignited, it could create an ember that could travel into a load of laundry in the dryer drum. Clayton opined that the corrugated tube used in the incident dryer traps lint. He claimed that Whirlpool could have improved its dryer design by using a smooth tube, using better seals and installing a screen to trap lint in the dryer’s machinery before lint could reach the heater box. John Adams gave expert engineering testimony for Whirlpool. Adams testified that he did not believe that the dryer caught on fire. He testified that when a dryer drum catches on fire, it exhibits a “V” burn pattern on the outside and a horizontal line showing where the fire pushed up to the top of the drum. Adams observed that the dryer did not have the burn patterns that Adams believed are characteristic of a dryer-drum fire. Adams also testified that the Camachos’ lint ignition theory was not plausible as lint burns very quickly and moves fast through the heating element. Another Whirlpool expert witness was Roger Owens, a forensics and fire cause and origin expert. Owens testified that he believed the cause of the fire was either electrical or accelerant based. Owens testified that extension cords powered much of the home. He opined that the condition of the wires was bad and that the fire was started by an electrical malfunction or an accelerant. The case was submitted to the jury on a products liability theory. The jury answered “yes” to the question of whether Whirlpool defectively designed the Camachos’ dryer. It did not find any negligence on the part of Margarita, Santos or Salvador; therefore, it found that Whirlpool was 100 percent responsible for Joab’s death. The jury awarded Margarita, Santos and Salvador $3 million each in past and future damages. Asael and Abisai were each awarded $500,000 in past and future damages. Finally, the jury awarded $4 million to Joab’s estate for pain, suffering, mental anguish and expenses. Whirlpool appealed. HOLDING:Affirmed. By its first issue, Whirlpool challenged the legal sufficiency of the jury’s verdict on the Camachos’ design-defect cause of action. In five sub-issues, Whirlpool argued that: the Camachos’ expert testimony did not satisfy relevancy and reliability requirements; the trial court committed reversible error in admitting the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s report on lint fires; the trial court erred in admitting a similar dryer and related testimony, because the usage history and condition of the example dryer bore no relation to the incident dryer; Whirlpool conclusively established that the plaintiff’s design-defect theory was impossible; and legally insufficient evidence existed regarding a safer alternative design. Expert testimony, the court stated, must be relevant to the issues in a case and be based on a reliable foundation. The court noted Clayton’s educational credentials and stated: “Of the approximately 2,800 fires Clayton has investigated, he has inspected hundreds of dryers that were suspected of starting on fire.” Clayton’s testimony, the court stated, regarding the presence of lint and its possible ignition is supported by an examination of the similar dryer, which revealed lint in the dryer cabinet. Clayton and Sanchez, the court stated, relied on objective criteria in the record and their own experience to conclude that the dryer caused the fire. While Whirlpool may have disagreed with their conclusions, the court stated, the experts explained the basis for their opinions and based those opinions on objective facts. The court therefore held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the expert testimony of Clayton and Sanchez. As for the CPSC report, the court found it to be relevant: “It contains diagrams of how air flows through a dryer model similar to the incident dryer, how lint accumulates on various parts of the dryer, and how lint can start on fire while passing over the heating element. The evidence appears relevant and does not appear to be unduly prejudicial.” Whirlpool then argued that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the similar example dryer, because it was not used in a similar manner as the incident dryer. Whirlpool argued that the Camacho dryer was infrequently used and properly vented. In contrast, the example model was frequently used and not properly vented. Evidence of other accidents involving the same product, the court stated, is generally admissible to show its dangerous or hazardous nature, if the accidents occurred under the same or substantially similar conditions as that involving the plaintiff and with reasonable proximity in time. The substantially similar condition in this case, the court stated, was the mechanical inner workings of the dryer. Clayton’s testimony was that the corrugated tube and lack of a screen were what led to lint leakage, not the frequency and ventilation of the dryer. Whirlpool did not present any evidence that the example dryer’s air transport tube or heating element were substantially different than the incident dryer’s parts. Next, Whirlpool argued that its expert conclusively disproved the plaintiff’s theory that the dryer was the cause of the fire. While Whirlpool’s expert testimony was plausible, the court did not find it conclusive. Photographs admitted into evidence, the court stated, showed what Clayton claimed was charred lint inside the heating element of the example dryer. This evidence contradicted Adams’ testimony that lint could not be pulled into the heating element and charred, the court stated, Thus, the court found that Whirlpool failed to show that it conclusively disproved the Camacho’s theories. The court also found legally sufficient evidence of a safer alternative design. In addition, in response to Whirlpool’s allegation that the Camachos intentionally spoliated the scene, the court found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by not dismissing the suit or including a spoliation instruction. OPINION:Valdez, C.J.; Valdez, C.J., and Hinojosa and Garza, JJ.

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