Pa. SC affirms ruling against tree stand companies

By Stephanie Ostrowski | Dec 18, 2012

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) -- The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court has affirmed a decision of the Superior Court holding the manufacturer and distributors of an improperly manufactured tree stand responsible after a man fell and was injured during installation.

In the Nov. 26 opinion written by Justice Max Baer, the majority said the defendants could not prove Duane Reott behaved recklessly to cause him to fall from the stand.

Two Remington brand tree stands were purchased by the plaintiff's brother in January 2003 from an outdoors product mail-order and online catalog, The Sportsman's Guide.

Reott used one of the tree stands for about two years and left the other unused and sealed in the box until Sept. 25, 2005, when he intended to install the second tree stand on his brother's0 property.

While installing the tree stand on a suitable tree, Reott secured the stand with the locking strap and while bear hugging the tree, raised himself on his toes and came down on the platform. In this technique known as "setting the stand," the stand becomes secured firmly in the tree by taking any slack out of the locking strap.

Reott then fell to the ground when the locking strap broke and resulted in his crushed vertebra and fractured wrist.

When the brothers examined the tree stand, they found the locking strap had only been glued instead of glued and stitched together, similar to a seatbelt.

Reott and his wife sued four entities, Asia Trend Inc., Remington Arms Company Inc., RA Brands LLC and The Sportsman's Guide alleging that his injuries were caused by a manufacturing defect in the tree stand.

The trial court agreed with Reott that the product was defective and granted a partial directed verdict on that issue only. The court denied motion for directed verdict regarding action and allowed it to go to jury.

The jury found the self-taught "setting the stand" maneuver as highly reckless conduct and resolved against Reott.

Reott filed an appeal to the Superior Court. During the court analysis the panel noted that Appellee presented no evidence at trial to show that the force used to set the stand was sufficient alone to cause the stand to fall from the tree.

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