Geneseo attorney prompts national tree stand recall
GENESEO, NY — Litigation brought by Geneseo personal injury attorney Scott D. Cannon has provoked the recall of 13,000 hunters’ treestands nationwide.
Cannon is representing a man who was injured in October 2007 while using a tree stand sold by Gander Mountain Company. The hunter is from Geneseo and the accident took place in the Town of Geneseo.
“It was a brand new right-out-of-the-box tree stand,” Cannon relates. “He set it up the way he was suppose to. The first time he climbed in it, it collapsed underneath him.”
Cannon’s client likened the experience to “falling through a trap door.”
Dropping 14 feet, the hunter suffered two fractured lower back vertebra, a fractured pelvis and right wrist, and numerous other bumps and breaks.
Fortunately, he was in the company of his adult son, who was able to call for assistance. The man was Mercy-flighted to Strong Hospital and to date has endured three corrective surgeries.
Dennis Skogen, a forensic engineer from Madison, Wisconsin, was hired by Cannon to examine the tree stand. Skogen has determined that the collapse was caused by a defective spring snap which is meant to keep the tree stand bracket attached to the tree.
Hunter tree stand-related injuries are commonplace in the United States. According to a general safety study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, between 2005 and 2007 there were 18,980 injuries associated in some way with hunter tree stands, including 41 deaths.
Cannon warns all hunters who use tree stands to always wear a passive restraint harness of the type which will let them slowly descend to the ground. Other kinds of harnesses carry their own inherent dangers if the hunter is left suspended in the air.
Cannon reports that CPSC has validated his client’s conjecture that the model which resulted in his injury was defectively designed and manufactured.
“It is my case that has caused the nationwide recall,” Cannon confirmed, explaining that such a recall results from a mutual agreement on the part of CPSC and the manufacturer.
In a social environment in which personal injury and lawsuit attorneys are often the target of maligned comments, Cannon points out that this particular episode is an example of how attorneys can do good, by getting unsafe products returned by users and out of the marketplace, and thereby preventing further injuries.
Cannon’s client’s case is still pending in federal court in Rochester.
Ironically, the fact that the manufacturer is recalling 13,000 units of the disputed product in the midst of the lawsuit will not necessarily enhance Cannon’s chances of winning or increasing the settlement. Federal law generally will not allow Cannon to get the fact of the recall before the jury.
“Evidence of remedial efforts is inadmissible in front of a jury,” Cannon advised. “If you essentially punish a person or company for fixing bad things — by letting the jury hear about it — that creates a disincentive for the person or company to fix whatever is bad.”
The defective tree stand model designations are GMT 101 and GMT 103, either of which may collapse without warning.
Owners of the defective models may call Gander Mountain at (800) 638-2772 to obtain a refund or exchange. Persons with further concerns may call the Consumer Product Safety Commission at (888) 542-6337.