Today, the Minnesota Supreme Court rendered a decision in Montemayor v. Sebright Products, Inc. The case involved an individual, Nereus Montemayor, who was injured while working on a hog farm near Claremont, Minnesota. Montemayor was trying to clear a jam out of a high density extruder used to process hog feed when a defect allowed a plenum inside the extruder to come down with force. Montemayor’s legs were crushed during the incident.
Because the case involved a workplace injury, Montemayor had a workers’ compensation claim against his employer. However, Montemayor also brought a third-party claim against Sebright Products, Inc., which was the company that designed and manufactured the defective extruder.
After initiating the lawsuit, Sebright Products sought to dismiss the claim, arguing it was not foreseeable that Montemayor would be harmed by the product in the manner in which he was actually harmed. The district court–without the benefit of actual testimony and against well-established principles law–agreed, thereby taking the case out of the hands of a jury. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.
Montemayor asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to review his case. At the Supreme Court, Montemayor was aided by two attorneys from Bird, Jacobsen & Stevens who asked for and received permission to file a brief on behalf of the Minnesota Association for Justice. Charles Bird and Grant Borgen wrote a lengthy brief urging the Minnesota Supreme Court to conclude that the issue of foreseeability, in a case like Montemayor’s, was for a jury to decide after hearing all the facts at trial–not by a judge without the benefit of live testimony and evidence.
The Minnesota Supreme Court agreed with Bird and Borgen’s arguments and reversed the lower courts’ decisions. The case will now head back to the Minnesota Court of Appeals for further consideration. To read the full decision.