This case involves a plaintiff who was injured while working out with a personal trainer. The trainer had the plaintiff use an exercise ball to sit on while doing presses with dumbbells above his head. The plaintiff was a 140 lb woman and the dumbbells were 30 pounds each. The plaintiff had never used this type of exercise ball in a workout before and was not aware that the ball had the potential to explode. There was no warning label printed on the ball directly. Although the ball had come with a warning in the packaging, that packaging had been discarded by the gym. While the woman was completing the exercise, the ball exploded and the weights fell onto her chest causing serious injury. It was alleged that a warning should be printed on the ball itself considering the likelihood that the person using the ball would not be the one who had purchased it and taken it out of the packaging. An expert was sought to discuss warnings standards for exercise equipment.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe your familiarity with warnings standards for this type of equipment.
Expert Witness Response E-000942
I have been an expert in several exercise equipment cases including one for the fitness training ball and its instructions and warnings. The warnings standards generally follow the consumer product standards, of which I am well aware. Many of my cases involve warnings and instructions. I have been a contributing author for a technical standard for labeling and instructions for home healthcare devices and serve on committees that deal with warnings and safe design. In this particular case, my additional education in physics may be especially useful to supplement my human factors expertise. It is not clear what the hazard was and what warning was included in the packaging, but as a rule, warnings and instructions need to be located where they are needed and that may very well have been on the ball, itself. There are durability issues that a manufacturer would need to solve and the fact that the ball exploded would make me think about whether the design specifications were appropriate for the user population and the expected uses.