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Filed 18-CI-03522 10/05/2018 NOT ORIGINAL

Vincent Riggs, Fayette Circuit Clerk DOCUMENT


10/08/2018 01:26:39 PM
CourthouseNews-1

COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
FAYETTE CIRCUIT COURT
CASE NO. 18-CI-

MICHAEL STUTLAND PLAINTIFF

V ELECTRONCIALLY FILED

BED BATH & BEYOND OF LEXINGTON INC.,


BED BATH & BEYOND INC., SAM’S EAST, INC.,
ZENGHUA INTERNATIONAL CO. LTD.,
TRADEMARK GLOBAL, LLC,
CARAVAN CANOPY INTERNATIONAL INC. and,
JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS 1-20.

COMPLAINT
And

Presiding Judge: HON. THOMAS L. TRAVIS (622370)


JURY DEMAND
******************

COMES NOW, Plaintiff, by and through counsel, Smith, O’Toole & Brooke and for his cause

of action states:

SYNOPSIS

1. This suit involves a claim for the defective design, manufacture and ultimate failure of a

zero gravity chair purchased by Plaintiff that completely gave way when Plaintiff collapsed

back onto the chair resulting in Plaintiff suffering grievous injuries including paralysis and

various debilitating medical issues that arose as a result of the injury sustained as a direct

and proximate result of the defective design and/or manufacture resulting in the ultimate
COM : 000001 of 000011

failure of the zero gravity chair.

2. The specific defects of the chair, include, but are not limited to:

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a. The bungee rope design which is prone to premature failure by fraying,

weakening, and/or total system failure when any part of the component fails as a

result of outdoor use as intended by the manufacturer;

b. Manufacturing defects that resulted in the bungee cord failing after only 1 season

outdoors, being weakened so much that the product was unsafe to use as

intended;

c. Design defects in the framing of the chair that resulted in premature rusting and

or deterioration of the bungee cords involved and contributed to the total failure

of the chair in the manner that was the direct and proximate cause of Plaintiff’s

injuries;

Presiding Judge: HON. THOMAS L. TRAVIS (622370)


d. Manufacturing defects in the framing of the chair that resulted in premature

rusting and deterioration of the bungee cords involved and contributed to the

total failure of the chair in the manner that was the direct and proximate cause of

Plaintiff’s injuries; and/or

e. Other defects in design and/or manufacture may be discovered as the matter may

proceed and may have contributed to the failure of the chair that caused the

grievous injuries to Plaintiff.

PARTIES, VENUE AND JURISDICTION

3. Plaintiff is a resident of Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky.

4. Defendant Bed Bath & Beyond Of Lexington Inc. is a Kentucky corporation with its
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registered agent, Corporation Service Company, located at 421 West Main Street,

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Frankfort, KY 40601 and does business in Fayette County Kentucky at the Bed Bath &

Beyond location at 3220 Nicholasville Rd, Lexington, KY.

5. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. is a Foreign Corporation with its registered agent, Prentice Hall

Corporation System, Inc. located at 421 West Main St., Frankfort, KY 40601.

6. Upon information and belief, Zenghua International Co. Ltd. Is the manufacture of the

defective product in question in this matter and is located in Chengxi new Zone,

Yongkang, Zhejiang, China 321300.

7. Upon information and belief Trademark Global, LLC is the manufacturer and/or

distributor of the defective product in question in this matter and a Foregin Limited

Liability Company with its registered agent, Corporation Service Company, located at 421

Presiding Judge: HON. THOMAS L. TRAVIS (622370)


West Main Street, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.

8. Upon information and belief, Caravan Canopy Int’l, Inc. is a California Corporation, selling

goods, including the product in question in this matter, in Kentucky, with its principal

place of business located at 14600 Alondra Blvd, La Mirada, CA 90638.

9. John Doe Defendants 1-20 are placeholder Defendants that include manufacturers,

distributors and/or sellers of the various components of the zero gravity chair specifically

including the design of the chair, the selection of the materials used in the manufacture

of the chair, and the manufacture of the components that are used in the chair, that are

completely unknowable by the Plaintiff at this time but will be discoverable through the

process of discovery.
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10. Venue is proper in Fayette County because the injury occurred in Fayette County, the

chair was purchased in Fayette County and at least one of the Defendants has a physical

location in Fayette County and several of the Defendants do business in Fayette County.

11. Jurisdiction is proper in Fayette Circuit Court because the amount in controversy exceeds

$5,000 and Fayette Circuit Court is a court of general jurisdiction, and the parties have all

subjected them to the jurisdiction of the Kentucky courts as a result of doing business in

Kentucky.

FACTS

12. Plaintiff purchased a zero gravity chair from Sam’s Club in Lexington, Kentucky.

13. Plaintiff purchased a zero gravity chair from Bed Bath & Beyond in Lexington, Kentucky.

Presiding Judge: HON. THOMAS L. TRAVIS (622370)


14. Upon information and belief, the chairs were manufactured and/or distributed by one of

the following companies:

a. ZENGHUA INTERNATIONAL CO. LTD.,


b. TRADEMARK GLOBAL, LLC,
c. CARAVAN CANOPY INTERNATIONAL INC. and/or
d. JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS 1-20.

15. The zero gravity chair was defective in the following ways:

a. The entire support of the chair was dependent on bungee cords that were prone

to weakening when exposed to weather which directly caused the collapse of the

entire chair causing Plaintiff’s injuries;

b. The frame of the chair was prone to rusting prematurely as a result of poor
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manufacturing processes and or design which contributed to the weakening of the

bungee cord and ultimate failure of the chair which caused Plaintiff’s injuries.

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c. The overall design of the bungee cord system of the chair with no fail safe

measures to prevent the complete collapse of the chair if one part of the bungee

cord failed contributed to the ultimate failure of the chair which caused Plaintiff’s

injuries.

d. Plaintiff reserves the right to conduct further discovery and have expert review of

the chair manufacture and design to determine what other defects in design,

manufacture and/or workmanship may have existed that contributed to the

ultimate failure of the chair which caused Plaintiff’s injuries.

16. Plaintiff, a 67 year old man, had just finished a 20 mile bike ride when he came home,

went to his back patio and collapsed onto the zero gravity chair he purchased from Bed

Presiding Judge: HON. THOMAS L. TRAVIS (622370)


Bath & Beyond.

17. When Plaintiff collapsed onto the zero gravity chair the chair completely gave way and

Plaintiff slammed onto the supporting framework and cement patio.

18. The force of the impact broke Plaintiff’s back and caused further extensive injuries, pain,

suffering and torment.

19. Plaintiff lived alone, and he laid paralyzed on his deck for 7 days before his regular Uber

driver checked in on him after not seeing him for several days and discovered him on the

patio.

20. The Uber driver called 911 and Plaintiff was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he was

treated for his injuries.


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21. Plaintiff coded several times but survived with treatment from St. Joseph’s Hospital.

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22. Plaintiff was hospitalized for months, then spent time at Cardinal Hill, and then at

Diversicare because he was completely unable to care for himself as a result of the injuries

he incurred.

23. To this day Plaintiff is a shadow of himself, although he can now walk gingerly, he is

completely unable to perform any complex physical activity aside from a very ginger and

slow walk.

24. Plaintiff was an elite athlete, a five time all SEC high jumper, which is likely the only thing

that saved his life.

25. Plaintiff continued to maintain himself in excellent physical condition throughout his life.

26. Plaintiff is no longer capable of doing any of the physically exerting activities he used to

Presiding Judge: HON. THOMAS L. TRAVIS (622370)


enjoy, like biking, running, swimming, and hiking.

COUNT I
NEGLIGENCE
MANUFACTURER

27. Plaintiff incorporates by reference paragraphs 1-26 as though fully restated herein.

28. At all relevant times Defendants, Zenghua International Co. Ltd., Trademark Global, LLC,

Caravan Canopy International Inc., and/or John Doe Defendants 1-20 owed a duty to

Plaintiff and to the public in general to:

a. Properly manufacture its products,

b. Properly test its products,

c. Properly design its products, and


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d. Properly warn of the deterioration and failure of the product if exposed to

weather and the elements for a single season.

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29. Defendants Zenghua International Co. Ltd., Trademark Global, LLC, Caravan canopy

International, Inc. and /or John doe Defendants 1-20 breached these duties by

committing or omitting the following acts:

a. Failing to properly manufacture the zero gravity chair purchased by Plaintiff;

b. Failing to properly design the zero gravity chair purchased by Plaintiff;

c. Failing to properly test the zero gravity chair in the weather and elements; and

d. Failing to properly warn of the deterioration of the zero gravity chair purchased

by plaintiff.

30. Specifically, Defendants used a bungee cord design that:

a. Was susceptible to failure as a result of exposure to the weather, even though the

Presiding Judge: HON. THOMAS L. TRAVIS (622370)


zero gravity chair was intended for outside purposes;

b. Used substandard materials and was created with substandard procedures, and

workmanship;

c. Did not include fail safe components in the design that would prevent the failure

of the entire chair when the bungee cord failed in one spot.

31. At the time the product was manufactured, shipped, distributed and sold there was a

feasible alternative production practice and design that was available that would have

prevented Plaintiff’s injury without significantly impairing the usefulness or desirability of

the zero gravity chair to users without creating equal or greater risk of harm to others.

32. These breaches of the manufacturers duty proximately caused the grievous injuries
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suffered by Plaintiff including the paralysis, degradation of his overall health and physical

ability, impairment of his mental ability, crippling effects on his entire body, loss of

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enjoyment of life, humiliation, pain, suffering, ability to earn a livelihood, long hospital

stay, being confined to a nursing home, generally being unable to care for himself,

medical costs incurred, painful and frustrating rehabilitation, and general frustration with

his physical limitations as compared to his previous virile capabilities.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests that this honorable court enter judgment against

Defendants Zenghua International Co. Ltd., Trademark Global, LLC, Caravan canopy

International, Inc. and /or John doe Defendants 1-20 in an amount that will adequately

compensate Plaintiff for his injuries together with the costs of this action, interest and

attorney’s fees.

COUNT II
BREACH OF EXPRESS AND/OR IMPLIED WARRANTY - MANUFACTURER

Presiding Judge: HON. THOMAS L. TRAVIS (622370)


33. Plaintiff incorporates by reference paragraphs 1-32 as though fully restated herein.

34. The zero gravity chair was not reasonably fit for use outdoors even though it was

advertised as an outdoor chair and the failure of the chair was, at least in part, due to

deterioration of the bungee cord when exposed to the elements.

35. By advertising the zero gravity chair as an outdoor chair, Defendant manufacturers

created an both an express and implied warranty that the zero gravity chair was fit for

use outdoors.

36. The zero gravity chair was in fact not suitable for use outdoors because the bungee cord

failed due, at least in part, to exposure to the outdoor elements.


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37. This failure of the zero gravity chair was a breach of the implied warranty that the chair

was suitable for outdoor use.

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38. As a proximate result of the breach of implied warranty by Defendant Manufacturer,

Plaintiff was injured as previously described.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests that this honorable court enter judgment against

Defendants Zenghua International Co. Ltd., Trademark Global, LLC, Caravan canopy

International, Inc. and /or John doe Defendants 1-20 in an amount that will adequately

compensate Plaintiff for his injuries together with the costs of this action, interest and

attorney’s fees.

COUNT III
NEGIGENCE AGAINST SELLERS – ALL DEENDANTS

39. Plaintiff incorporates paragraphs 1-38 as though fully restated herein.

40. At some point in the process from manufacturing through delivery of the zero gravity

Presiding Judge: HON. THOMAS L. TRAVIS (622370)


chair to the end user, each Defendant sold the zero gravity chair.

41. At all relevant times, Defendant sellers owed a duty to Plaintiff and to the public in general

to properly market and sell their products, properly test their products, and to research

reviews of similar products that may have disclosed defects in manufacture or design.

42. Defendants knew or should have known that the zero gravity chair was not reasonably

safe when they sold the zero gravity chair.

43. Defendants knew or should have known that the zero gravity chair was not reasonably

safe when it was sold.

44. Defendant sellers did not adequately test the product they were selling to ensure that it
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was safe and reasonably fit for the particular purpose it was sold.

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45. Defendant sellers knew or should have known that the zero gravity chair was not

reasonably safe to be used outside because of deterioration of the bungee cords due to

exposure to the elements and due to other design defects.

46. If the Defendant sellers had conducted proper testing on the zero gravity chair, then they

would have known it was not reasonably safe when it was sold.

47. Defendant sellers did not do adequate testing, and at the time the product was

manufactured, shipped, distributed and sold there was a feasible alternative production

practice and design that was available that would have prevented Plaintiff’s injury without

significantly impairing the usefulness or desirability of the zero gravity chair to users

without creating equal or greater risk of harm to others.

Presiding Judge: HON. THOMAS L. TRAVIS (622370)


WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests that this honorable court enter judgment against all

Defendants in an amount that will adequately compensate Plaintiff for his injuries

together with the costs of this action, interest and attorney’s fees.

COUNT IV
BREACH OF IMPLIED AND EXPRESS WARRANTY - SELLERS

48. Plaintiff incorporates by reference paragraphs 1-47 as though fully restated herein.

49. The zero gravity chair was not reasonably fit for use outdoors even though it was

advertised as an outdoor chair and the failure of the chair was, at least in part, due to

deterioration of the bungee cord when exposed to the elements.

50. By advertising the zero gravity chair as an outdoor chair, Defendant manufacturers
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created an both an express and implied warranty that the zero gravity chair was fit for

use outdoors.

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51. The zero gravity chair was in fact not suitable for use outdoors because the bungee cord

failed due, at least in part, to exposure to the outdoor elements.

52. This failure of the zero gravity chair was a breach of the implied warranty that the chair

was suitable for outdoor use.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests that this honorable court enter judgment against all

Defendants in an amount that will adequately compensate Plaintiff for his injuries together

with the costs of this action, interest and attorney’s fees.

/s/James O’Toole
Smith, O’Toole & Brooke
2333 Alexandria Dr.

Presiding Judge: HON. THOMAS L. TRAVIS (622370)


Lexington, KY 40504
(859) 514-6072
jotoole@smithotoole.com

JURY DEMAND
Plaintiff hereby demands a trial by jury.

/s/James O’Toole

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