Couch v. Mine Safety Appliances Co

In Couch v. Mine Safety Appliances Co., 107 Wn.2d 232, 728 P.2d 585, 78 A.L.R. 4th 139 (1986), the Court held that "the availability of an alternative, reasonably safe design is not a necessary element of a plaintiff's burden of proof in a product liability action based on defective design." Id. at 234. In Couch, a logger was killed as a result of a head injury caused by a tree falling on him, and his wife sued the manufacturer of his safety helmet--alleging that it was not reasonably safe under the WPLA. Presented with a contrary interpretation of the WPLA, we flatly rejected the argument that a "plaintiff bears the burden of proving the existence of a practical and feasible alternative design." Id. at 239.