Judge denies Synergy Outdoors' motion for summary judgment in lawsuit claiming hunting stand was defective

By Shanice Harris | Apr 10, 2019

KANSAS CITY – The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri recently denied a motion by outdoor equipment manufacturer Synergy Outdoors LLC for summary judgment in a lawsuit filed by a couple claiming injuries from faulty equipment sold by the manufacturer.

In an April 3 filing, U.S. District Judge Roseann A. Ketchmark denied Synergy's motion in the suit filed by Daniel and Rosalie Gasperson claiming Daniel suffered injuries when he fell from an Ameristep Two-Man 15-foot Ladder Stand manufactured and distributed by Synergy. The ladder allows hunters to get a better view of their prey. The plaintiffs' lawsuit claims the product was defective and warning information on the ladder was not helpful. 

Synergy claimed in its motion for summary judgment that the warnings were not defective and that Daniel’s injury was because of his own accord, not because of “faulty” product. Synergy claimed the “plaintiffs were injured because they failed to follow the product’s warnings and instructions,” according to court documents.

The Gaspersons' suit also named several parties they claimed were responsible for the design, manufacture and distribution of the project, including Primal Vantage,  Ameristep and Plano Synergy Holdings Inc.

Synergy also argued that an expert hired by the plaintiffs to testify as to the validity of their claims was not a valid expert.

“Plaintiffs point to their expert Bill Munsell’s report (that) found that neither Mr. Gasperson’s choice of tree, positioning of the product, applying the installation straps, adjusting the stabilizer bar, applying the tiedown rope, nor attempting to apply the ratchet strap before the harness strap were causative in of the accident," court filings said.

Both parties had conflicting expert testimonials, but the court agreed that the issue of material facts genuinely does exist in this case. 

The court denied Synergy's motion for summary judgment because the company did not address the negligence claims, only design defect.

"After careful consideration, the court finds that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether the product’s design was defective and whether the warnings were adequate," Ketchmark said in the ruling.

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