OWEN, Circuit Judge:
Mark Evans sued Ford Motor Company and Ford Motor Credit Company under the Louisiana Products Liability Act, claiming that a defective 1999 Ford Explorer injured him. At the conclusion of a trial, in which a jury found the Explorer's transmission was unreasonably dangerous because of a nonconformity with an express warranty,
Extreme Nissan, a car dealership in New Orleans, purchased a used 1999 Ford Explorer from Ford Motor Credit Company at a Florida auction. The Explorer was still within the original 36-month/36,000 warranty issued by Ford Motor Company. At the auction, the Explorer was classified as a "green light" vehicle, which meant that it should not have any mechanical defects.
The Explorer and other vehicles purchased by Extreme Nissan at the Florida auction were shipped to New Orleans and unloaded from a transportation truck onto Extreme Nissan's lot. Mark Evans, then an assistant used car manager at Extreme Nissan, and one of his fellow employees began parking the cars and trucks. Evans drove the Explorer into a parking lane, thought he put it in "Park," and exited the vehicle with the motor running and the door open. As he was talking to a co-worker, the Explorer moved backward. Its door hit him, knocking him to the ground, and the front left wheel ran over his right leg.
Evans sued Ford Motor Company and Ford Motor Credit Company in Louisiana state court, asserting causes of action based on the Louisiana Products Liability
Among other contentions, Evans asserted that the Explorer had a "perceived park" defect — arising from a 3/16ths-inch insert plate in the steering column between the park and reverse gears — that deceived him into believing that the Explorer was in "Park," when it in fact was not. Evans alleged that the Explorer was unreasonably dangerous: (1) in construction or composition; (2) in its design; and (3) due to inadequate warnings. Although Evans did not allege in his complaint that the Explorer failed to conform with an express warranty, this contention was listed as an issue in the pre-trial order,
After a Daubert
At the close of Evans's case-in-chief, Ford moved for judgment as a matter of law. The district court granted that motion in part, dismissing Evans's design and warning claims, but allowed Evans's construction claim to proceed. The district court also pointed out that nonconformity with an express warranty was an issue in the pre-trial order and allowed that claim to proceed.
At the conclusion of the evidence, the jury failed to find that the Explorer was defective in construction or composition and failed to find Ford Motor Credit Company at fault. But the jury found the vehicle was unreasonably dangerous "because of a nonconformity with an express warranty." The jury assessed damages of $900,000 for Evans's physical and mental pain and suffering, including loss of enjoyment of life and future loss of earning capacity, and $80,000 in past lost wages. The jury attributed 80% of the cause of those damages to Ford and 20% to Evans.
Ford moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, asserting that as a matter of law, Evans failed to meet the Louisiana Products Liability Act's requirements for establishing an express-warranty claim.
Ford Motor Company challenges the district court's judgment, asserting that: (1) Evans failed to meet section 9:2800.58's requirements for establishing an express-warranty claim; (2) Evans failed to show that his claim arose from "a reasonably anticipated use" of the Ford Explorer, as required by section 9:2800.54;
"We review de novo the district court's ruling on a motion for judgment as a matter of law."
The Louisiana Products Liability Act "establishes the exclusive theories of liability
The Louisiana Products Liability Act defines an express warranty as:
In support of his express warranty claims, Evans contends that he adduced some evidence at trial that (1) the Explorer failed to conform to statements in the owner's manual, (2) the shift indicator was an affirmative representation that the Explorer was in "Park" when it was not, (3) the Explorer did not conform to the "green light" warranty that was given at the auction, and (4) the Explorer failed to conform to the manufacturer's 36-month/36,000 mile warranty.
Evans's arguments regarding the shift indicator and the "green light" warranty fail because, even assuming either the shift indicator or the "green light" constituted or contained an express warranty, a question we do not decide, there is no evidence that Ford Motor Company made any representation or warranty. At most, an inference might be drawn from the evidence that Ford Motor Credit Company issued a "green light" warranty at the auction at which Express Nissan purchased the Explorer as a used vehicle. But there is no evidence that Ford Motor Company had any role in the auction or in tagging the Explorer as a "green light" vehicle. Similarly, there is no evidence that any defect in or damage to the shift indicator was caused by Ford Motor Company. The evidence shows only that at the time Extreme Nissan purchased the Explorer as a used vehicle, the shift indicator was broken, not functioning properly, or both. There is no evidence that Ford Motor Company was the cause of any disrepair or defect. There is no evidence that at the time the Explorer left Ford's hands, the shift indicator "represented" that the vehicle was in "Park" when it was not.
Ford Motor Company was, however, responsible for any representations or warranties that the owner's manual contained, and Evans asserts that the following statements from that manual support the jury's verdict in his favor:
Evans emphasizes the statement that "[t]his position locks the transmission and prevents the rear wheels from turning." He cannot, however, uncouple that sentence from the preceding one: "Make sure
Furthermore, there was no evidence that Evans had seen or relied on the owner's manual before he was injured. To prevail on an express warranty claim under Louisiana law, someone injured by using a product must adduce evidence that he or she had read or was aware of the express warranty and was induced to use the product because of it.
Finally, Evans has failed to offer any evidence that the manufacturer's 36-month/36,000 warranty was breached. He merely recites that the warranty remained in effect at the time of his injury. He points to no provision in the warranty that he contends supports the jury's finding.
We note that Evans argues that the testimony of Ford's expert witnesses and reported decisions of various courts support his assertion that the Explorer was defectively designed. However, Evans's design defect claims were dismissed by the district court before the case was submitted to the jury, and Evans has badly mischaracterized the expert testimony at trial. No expert testified that the Explorer's transmission, shifting mechanism, or shifting indicator was defectively designed.
Because there is simply no evidence to support a finding that the Explorer failed to conform with an express warranty, we do not reach Ford's other contentions, nor do we reach Evans's complaints regarding the second trial on damages.
* * * * *
We REVERSE the district court's judgment denying Ford Motor Company's motion for judgment as a matter of law and RENDER judgment in favor of Ford.