Allowing a plaintiff to use broad studies of truck crashworthiness to demonstrate a defendant’s state of mind for punitive damages in a product defect claim would be a substantial and unnecessary extension of the law, an attorney for a truck manufacturer has argued before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The plaintiff, H. Ryan Hutchinson, is appealing a Superior Court decision that ordered a new trial on liability and damages in a suit against truck builder Freightliner and others after a 1999 crash in which he lost an arm. The Superior Court did not rule on whether the trial court had erred in throwing out Hutchinson’s punitive damages award, noting that Hutchinson’s claim for punitives was based on the expert reports of other accidents, which the Superior Court had held were wrongly admitted. The case is Hutchinson v. Penske Truck Leasing Co.

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