Court rejects product claim against bungee cord seller and distributor
Keith Fowler suffered a serious eye injury while fastening lumber to a trailer with a heavy duty bungee cord. Sadly, this is a common injury associated with bungee cords: I think our firm, alone, has investigated more than half a dozen of these cases. Fowler was pulling the cord tight over the lumber when the cord separated from the hook on the opposite end and snapped back into his eye. Virtually every claim we have investigated has occurred in the same fashion. Bungee cords are deceptively dangerous pieces of equipment. In Fowler's case, the Court rejected Fowler's argument that the cords should be sold with a warning advising purchasers of the danger they present.
The Court concluded that neither the sellers nor the manufacturer owed any duty to warn purchasers because the associated danger was "open and obvious or a matter of common knowledge." From our experience, both as lawyers and as observers of the use of bungee cords, in fact the general public is not cognizant of the serious eye danger associated with the use of this product. With Michigan no longer holding sellers responsible for the sale of defective products, items of this nature are now purchased from the cheapest, third-world supplier without any form of insurance or indemnification. As a result, consumers are exposed to untested products with defective components and ineffective packaging, warnings and instructions. Keep that in mind the next time you stretch a bungee cord a little further to bind down a load or package.