COVELL v. BELL SPORTS, INC.
651 F.3d 357 (2011)
David W. COVELL; Margaret Covell, Plenary Guardians of the Person of David F. Covell, Appellants
BELL SPORTS, INC.; Easton-Bell Sports, Inc.; Performance, Inc.
Michael Kenig; Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.
Argued: June 21, 2011.
Filed: July 12, 2011.
As Amended July 14, 2011.
Barbara R. Axelrod, Esq., the Beasley Firm, LLC, Philadelphia, PA, Clifford A. Rieders, Esq., Pamela L. Shipman, Esq., Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Harris, Waters & Waffenschmidt, Williamsport, PA, Amicus Curiae for Appellant.
Before: HARDIMAN and ALDISERT, Circuit Judges, and RESTANI,* Judge.
OPINION OF THE COURT
ALDISERT, Circuit Judge.
David W. Covell and Margaret Covell, who are plenary guardians of their adult son David F. Covell, appeal from a jury's verdict for the defendant in their products liability suit against Easton-Bell Sports, Inc. They urge us to order a new trial on the ground that the District Court erred by admitting evidence and charging the jury pursuant to sections 1 and 2 of the Restatement (Third) of Torts (1998), rather than section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts (1965). Having held in Berrier v. Simplicity Manufacturing, Inc., 563 F.3d 38 (3d Cir.2009), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ____, 130 S.Ct. 553, 175 L.Ed.2d 383 (2009), that federal district courts applying Pennsylvania law to products liability cases should look to sections 1 and 2 of the Restatement (Third) of Torts, and seeing no reason to reverse course now, we will affirm.I.
David F. Covell, a 36 year-old schoolteacher, sustained serious brain injuries when he was struck by a car while bicycling to work in 2007. Tragically, he is now so disabled that his parents (the "Covells") have been appointed his legal guardians. In that capacity, they filed this products liability suit against Easton-Bell Sports, Inc. ("Bell"), which manufactured the "Giro Monza" bicycle helmet their son wore during the collision. Their suit, filed in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, alleged that the Giro Monza helmet was defectively designed and that it lacked adequate warnings about danger from impact to the helmet's edge. Bell removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where the trial proceeded according to Pennsylvania substantive law.
At trial, and over the Covells' strident objections, the District Court permitted Bell to introduce expert testimony that was based in part upon the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission's Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets (the "CPSC Standard"). The CPSC Standard is an administrative regulation that provides an exacting set of guidelines for impact resistance, head covering, labels on helmets and helmet boxes, helmet resistance to temperature and moisture, manufacturer recordkeeping, and much more. See 16 C.F.R. § 1203.1. Forced to respond to Bell's expert, the Covells offered their own expert testimony regarding the CPSC Standard. Ultimately, experts for both sides agreed that the CPSC Standard forms the starting point for any bicycle helmet design, and that the Giro Monza helmet satisfied the CPSC Standard in all respects.
At the trial's conclusion, the District Court instructed the jury pursuant to sections 1 and 2 of the Restatement (Third) of
Torts. The Court also instructed the jury that, in determining whether the Giro Monza helmet was or was not defective, it could consider evidence of standards or customs in the bicycle helmet industry, including the CPSC Standard. The jury returned a verdict for the defense, finding that the helmet was not defective. The Covells timely filed this appeal.