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Robertson v. Straight Line Water Sports, et. al.

Verdict: $1,100,000

The defendant Straight Line Water Sports began marketing a new water ski rope device called the “Woggle,” which was manufactured in Hong Kong by an injection mold plastic process. The woggle was intended as a quick release device to connect and disconnect tow ropes to water ski handles and inner tubes. The plaintiff, a sixteen-year-old woman, was being towed behind her father's boat on an inner tube when the woggle device shattered causing the tow rope to snap back and strike the plaintiff in her eye. The blunt trauma blinded the plaintiff in one eye.

            The woggle device which broke sank to the bottom of the Illinois River. The plaintiff alleged that the woggle device had a propensity to fracture under load based on a design defect in the ejection mold system. Using a plastics engineer who tested dozens of facsimile woggles, plaintiff's counsel proved that the injected mold had improperly placed gates, which produced air bubbles causing weakness in the woggle. This is a rare case of reverse engineering used to prove a defect when the injury-causing product is no longer available for testing or examination.

Robertson v. Straight Line Water Sports, et. al.

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