• May 24, 2011

Every winter, a few Minnesotans die falling from their roofs clearing ice and snow.  Every summer, some Minnesotans die from accidents when mowing the lawn (Strib picked up this most recent story here)(although, as we all know, non-fatal but still devastating mowing injuries are far more frequent).

Sometimes these situations can touch on a controversial aspect of American law when it comes to apportioning “blame,” “fault,” or “responsibility.”

Wendy Sobolik died when the tractor mower she was riding flipped over into water.  She was pinned underneath the 600+-pound tractor and she drowned.  The manufacturer/defendant sought to have the case thrown out, arguing that the mower design was reasonable as a matter of law.  U.S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim (D. Minn.), however, has concluded that this is an issue to be decided at trial by a jury.

The case is not scheduled for trial until next November.  In the mean time, drive carefully, even when it is around the yard at 5 mph!

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