As a consultant and expert witness, Ben Kelley has participated in hundreds of cases involving hazardous products and foreseeable injuries caused by their design. His work has provided:
A common corporate defense claim in product injury litigation is that an injurious product was “safe enough” because it allegedly “complied” with government standards – or, indeed, that it was simply not hazardous. As an expert witness and consultant, Kelley has addressed such claims in numerous cases. For instance, in the California litigation which led to a recall order involving millions of Ford vehicles with defective “Thick-Film Ignition” components that caused stalling, the court relied on Kelley’s testimony to conclude that Ford had “dissimulated” in contending that stalling was not a hazard and the vehicles were “safe”:
“One need look no further than the evidence presented by Ben Kelley…to conclude, as this court does, that stalling, under almost any circumstances, presents an unreasonable risk to automobile safety and to the safety of the occupants of any such automobile.” (Statement of Decision, No. 763785-2, California Superior Court, County of Alameda, Oct. 11, 2000)
Kelley has played influential roles in regulatory, judicial and legislative outcomes. IIHS projects in which he participated were pivotal in exposing the rollover hazards of SUV-type vehicles (see project video). They helped bring about tougher federal standards to control vehicle fuel-system crashworthiness, low-speed impact performance, improved restraint systems, less hazardous highways, and groundbreaking vehicle-safety rating systems. The Johns Hopkins University study Motorboat Propeller Injuries, which he initiated and co-authored, was cited by the Supreme Court in support of its crucial decision in Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine. That decision reversed a lower court ruling that preempted litigation against the company for injuries caused by its motorboat propeller design, thus substantially limiting the ability of manufacturers of dangerous products to shield themselves from injury lawsuits with preemption claims.
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