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Tree worker wins right to appeal over ‘defective’ footwear

Image © Michael Zysman |

The Supreme Court in the US state of New Mexico has reversed a decision made by two lower courts in a case involving a tree trimmer who claims he was injured as a result of defective work boots he had purchased some time before.

A Judicial District Court had previously dismissed the claim on the grounds that the claimant had waited too long to file the lawsuit because it was governed by a three-year statute of limitations. A Court of Appeals agreed and also judged in favour of the retailer. However, now the Supreme Court has decided that a four-year statute of limitations applies rather than a three-year limit. This ruling was made under the Uniform Commercial Code, which states that a four-year period covers breach of warranty claims, and allows for damages to be sought for injuries related to any breach of this legislation.

According to the lawsuit, the worker was wearing the boots while cutting off dead branches and removing logs. He claims that the soles of the boots detached, causing him to trip and injure his back. When physical therapy for the back injury reportedly did not work, he had surgery to repair ruptured discs. He alleges that he has suffered severe, painful and permanent mental and physical injury, loss of earnings and incurred medical expenses.

The injured man’s argument is that the boots did not conform to their stated warranties, which described them as tough, rugged, and meeting or exceeded standards for footwear set for employees by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. According to the Uniform Commercial Code, he may attempt to recover direct, incidental and consequential damages. The Supreme Court has now sent the case back to the Court of Appeals for review.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 4 of the November 2015 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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