A Kentucky dealership employee can pursue a personal injury suit against the company that installed an allegedly defective Ram 5500 pickup tailgate, a federal judge ruled in March.
Jeffrey Guilkey broke his wrists and elbow and tore his bicep in 2017 when the tailgate collapsed as he stood on it while washing the truck at Jeff Wyler Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram of Fort Thomas. The tailgate was part of a general service body manufactured by Omaha Standard and installed by Commercial Truck & Van Equipment.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning allowed product liability and negligence claims against Commercial Truck to proceed, saying there was enough evidence the tailgate was defective and "unreasonably dangerous." The judge said Commercial "does not attempt to explain how the tailgate would have collapsed absent a defect."
The company argued that it was possible Guilkey put the tailgate down to make it easier to climb in and out of the pickup bed, misjudged the distance to the end of the truck and fell off. But three employees testified they heard the tailgate smack against the truck as Guilkey fell.
The judge dismissed the case against Omaha Standard, saying Guilkey couldn't prove the service body "was defective when it left Omaha Standard's possession three years prior to the accident." He also stated that the tailgate "had not been in use since it was manufactured by Omaha Standard, thereby largely ruling out the possibility that the tailgate failed due to misuse or wear and tear."