Fassett v. Sears Holdings Corporation

319 F.R.D. 143 (2017)


Fassett (P) had been operating a Sears Craftsman 'Zero Turn' riding lawnmower for about one hour when he heard what he described as 'spitting' or 'sputtering' in the gas tank. After moving the lawnmower into his garage and turning it off, P lifted the seat so that he could reach the fuel tank. P observed that the hissing was coming from underneath the gas cap, and he saw that the gas tank had visibly expanded. To release what he believed was built-up pressure in the tank, P began to turn the gas cap. While the cap rotated, gasoline sprayed from the tank and 'doused' his clothes and body. As he turned away from the machine to run, the gas cap burst off the tank, and more gasoline sprayed from within. Almost immediately, P 'heard the gas ignite and knew he was on fire.' Flames covered his back and the left side of his body, traveling as high as the back of his head and portions of his face. P filed the instant lawsuit. The parties disagreed about the extent to which material related to gas cap or lawnmower designs other than those specific ones involved in the accident should be discoverable. P moved to compel.