Richard A. Clark, Plaintiff-Appellant, Cross-Appellee,
River Metals Recycling, LLC, Defendant-Appellee, Cross-Appellant, and Sierra International Machinery, LLC, Defendant-Appellee.
April 8, 2019
Appeals from the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Illinois. No. 3:15-cv-00447-JPG-RJD - J.
Phil Gilbert, Judge.
Wood, Chief Judge, and Scudder and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.
unfortunately happen on business premises with some
regularity. The workers' compensation system normally
governs payments from employers to injured workers, but those
workers are free to sue other parties, such as suppliers or
lessors of machinery that is used on the site. That is what
happened here: Richard A. Clark was badly injured as he was
getting off a car-crushing machine known as a mobile RB6000
Logger/Baler ("the Crusher"), which was used by his
employer, Thornton Auto Crushing, LLC. He sued both the
manufacturer of the Crusher, Sierra International Machinery,
LLC, and the company that had leased it to Thornton, River
Metals Recycling, LLC, asserting that they were liable to him
under Illinois tort law because it was defectively designed.
The district court granted summary judgment in both
defendants' favor after it decided to strike the
testimony from Clark's expert. Even taking the facts in
the light most favorable to Clark, as we must, we conclude
that the district court was correct to take this action. We
therefore affirm its judgment.
cars eventually end up with a company such as Thornton, which
crushes cars and sends what remains to a salvage company. One
of the machines Thornton used to squash the cars was the
Crusher. The Crusher had been assembled in Italy and then
imported into the United States by Sierra. Sierra sold it to
a company called Tri-State, which in turn conveyed it to
River Metals through an asset-only purchase agreement. River
Metals leased it to Thornton.
Crusher was a rather large machine, as the picture of it that
appears in the record shows:
other day or so for about 18 months before his accident,
Clark had worked with this machine. He was responsible for
daily maintenance, including checking the oil, antifreeze,
and hydraulic fluids. In order to perform these tasks, he
would clamber up the right side of the machine, stepping and
grabbing onto whatever was handy: the hydraulic lines, a
hose, or a cylinder, for example. This was not a method
endorsed by Sierra: it recommended instead that workers use
either a ladder or a working platform, such as a manlift or a
forklift, to reach the tanks. When the time came to get down,
Clark typically turned, stepped down from the tank-level
platform (about 60 inches above the ground) onto the steel
plate on top of the stabilizer (about 45 inches from the
ground), and from there jumped the rest of the way.
March 11, 2013, Clark finished his work up on the machine and
attempted to dismount as usual. But this time he slipped,
fell to the ground, and landed on his outstretched arm,
shattering his elbow. He was taken to the Emergency
Department at Carbondale Memorial Hospital; the Hospital
recorded that "[a]s he was getting off the bailer
[sic] apparently he slipped in some hydraulic
fluid." Since the accident, Clark's left arm has
been almost completely useless, and he has been in constant
pain. He has not been able to work, despite an effort to
return to Thornton.
little less than two years later, Clark filed a
products-liability complaint against River Metals and Sierra
in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Illinois. In it, he
alleged that the Crusher was defective and unreasonably
dangerous, because it failed to provide an adequate platform,
handrails, or other area for performing routine maintenance.
(Sierra named several third-party defendants, but the
district court dismissed them, and they play no part in this
appeal.) River Metals and Sierra removed the case to the U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on the
basis of diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).
After motion practice not relevant here, the district court
granted summary judgment for both defendants on the ground
that Clark could use only ...