COMPANY, A DIVISION OF A.O. SMITH CORPORATION, APPELLANTS v.
SETTLEMENT INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT D/B/A MARINA DEL REY
COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, SECOND DISTRICT, FORT WORTH
2006 Tex. App. LEXIS 715
January 26, 2006, Delivered
FROM THE 48TH DISTRICT COURT OF TARRANT COUNTY.
For APPELLANT: ROGER M. YALE, DENTON, TX., CRIVELLOW CARLSON AND
MENTKOWSKI, JOHN T. JUETTNER, MILWAUKEE, WI.
For APPELLEE: GOINS, UNDERKOFLER, CRAWFORD 7 LANGDON, LLP, JOHN C. TOLEFSON, STEPHEN A.
MELENDI, DALLAS, TX.
PANEL B: LIVINGSTON, GARDNER, and WALKER, JJ.
TEX. R. APP. P. 47.4.
This products liability case concerns a commercial water heater that overheated and set fire to an apartment
building. Appellants, A.O. Smith Corp. and A.O. Smith Water Products Co. (collectively, "A.O. Smith"), complain that
the trial court erred by denying their motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict because there is no evidence that
the alternative designs proposed by Appellee, Settlement Investments d/b/a Marina Del Rey, were economically
feasible, and no evidence that the alternative designs would not pose an equal or greater risk of harm under other
circumstances. We affirm.
II. Factual and procedural background
The following facts were stipulated [*2]
at trial. On June 2, 2000, a fire damaged the Marina Del Rey Apartments
in Grapevine. The fire started when hot gasses burned through the insulation on a commercial water heater installed at
the apartments. A.O. Smith manufactured the water heater. The fire caused $ 160,383.88 of damage in the form of
repair costs and lost rental income.
Marina Del Rey sued A.O. Smith for products liability and negligence. The case was tried to a jury. The jury found
that a design defect in the water heater was a producing cause of the damages in question. The trial court rendered
judgment for Marina Del Rey.