Mechanical Engineering Expert Opines on Tree Stand Failure

    Product Liability Expert WitnessThis case involves a hunter who was seriously injured after a failed stitching on a tree stand caused him to fall from a tree. The stand in question was recently purchased from a sporting goods store, and had straps that served to secure it to the tree. At some point, the stitching on both straps malfunctioned. The Plaintiff fell from a great height, resulting in serious injuries. It is alleged that the stand was defectively manufactured, and that the Plaintiff had been using the stand in accordance with the provided instructions at the time of the accident.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please discuss your background in designing and engineering tree stands.
    • 2. Is it possible that the straps were defective?
    • 3. Should the product have included warnings?

    Expert Witness Response E-001114

    I have 40+ years of industry experience and I am one of the leading authorities in the US on the failure of sports equipment, stools, and chairs. I am also a bow deer hunter and have used many different tree stands over the years, including ones that I designed for my own personal use. It is most likely that the straps and stitching are synthetic polymeric materials like polyester or nylon. I am an expert in synthetic materials including their strength properties and failure modes. I have a network of labs that can analyze the straps and stitching materials to determine if they are defectively manufactured. I believe that any device that supports body weight which would result in bodily injury if failure occurred, should have clear warnings regarding use and required maintenance. I have served as an expert in over 150 cases involving the failure of all kinds of plastic parts including pulleys, latches, pipes, hoses, stools, chairs, sports equipment, medical devices, toys, fabrics, bags, containers, helmets, etc. I believe that basic part design and material failure principles that have governed my forensic failure analysis projects over the past 40+ years also apply to tree stands.

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