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The widows of deceased husbands who served in the U.S. Navy alleged that their husbands contracted cancer caused by exposure to asbestos-containing insulation and components that were added onto ship’s engines, pumps, boilers, blowers, generators, switchboards, steam traps, and other devices. The manufacturer-defendants each made their products “bare metal.” If they manufactured an engine, they shipped it without any asbestos-containing insulation materials that would later be added. Following a remand, the district court applied the bright-line rule version of the bare-metal defense and clarified that summary judgment had been entered in favor of the manufacturers on both the strict liability and negligence claims. The court reasoned that the rule approach was best because maritime law favors uniformity. The Third Circuit vacated, stating that it surveyed “bedrock principles of maritime law” and concluded that they permit a manufacturer of even a bare-metal product to be held liable for asbestos-related injuries when circumstances indicate the injury was a reasonably foreseeable result of the manufacturer’s actions, at least in the context of a negligence claim. The court affirmed summary judgment on the product liability claims. View "In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation" on Justia Law

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In this appeal arising from an allegedly defective surgical mesh implant, the Eleventh Circuit certified the following question to the Supreme Court of Texas: In a product liability case, does Texas' discovery rule require a plaintiff to have some knowledge of possible wrongdoing on the part of the manufacturer—i.e., a causal connection between the injury and the manufacturer's conduct—before the plaintiff's claims can accrue? View "Bergin v. Mentor Worldwide LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against MSD in Louisiana state court under the Louisiana Products Liability Act for both the Atlantis Plate and an Infuse Bone Graft Device that was surgically implanted in his body. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on claims dealing with the Atlantis Plate, holding that the district court did not create manifest error by considering the malpractice complaint and that plaintiff did not meet his burden under the res ipsa loquitur doctrine. The court also affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that plaintiff and his attorney did not exercise due diligence in pursuing the discovery of documents dealing with the Verte-Stack or Progenix, and that MSD's actions in answering plaintiff's interrogatory and production request were in good faith. View "Lyles v. Medtronic, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioners sought a writ of mandamus arising from an MDL proceeding involving more than 9,300 plaintiffs alleging product liability claims for designing, manufacturing, and distributing an allegedly defective hip-implant device. A majority of the Fifth Circuit denied the writ that petitioners sought to prohibit the district court from proceeding to trial on plaintiffs' cases. A different majority held that so-called Lexecon objections were not waived and that the district court abused its discretion in finding waiver; that petitioners have shown the required clear and indisputable right to a writ of mandamus; and that petitioners have established that a writ of mandamus was appropriate under the circumstances. In regard to the ultimate result, a majority of the court concluded that petitioners have not shown that they have no other adequate means to attain the relief they sought. A majority of the court requested the district court vacate its ruling on waiver and to withdraw its order for a trial. View "In Re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc." on Justia Law

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Krik has lung cancer Krik smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes every day for 30 years. From 1954-1960 Krik also worked aboard navy vessels removing insulation produced by Owens‐Illinois, which he claimed exposed him to asbestos fibers. For two weeks, he worked as an independent contractor at Mobil’s Joliet refinery replacing heaters that Krik claimed were insulated with asbestos. In his suit against Owens and Mobil, a jury found that cigarettes were the sole cause of Krik’s cancer. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding the district court's exclusion of testimony from Krik's expert concerning theories that any exposure to asbestos fibers whatsoever, regardless of the amount of fibers or length of exposure constitutes an underlying cause of injury to the exposed individual. The court also rejected a claim that he was denied a fair trial when Mobil, with the knowledge of Owens, hired a private investigator to secretly conduct an interview of a sitting juror’s acquaintance, to verify and investigate information revealed by the juror. Neither issue was prejudicial and denied Krik a fair trial. View "Krik v. Exxon Mobil Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against GM after was involved in an accident where he sustained a cervical-spinal cord injury that rendered him a quadriplegic. Plaintiff was in a GMC Savana van and, although he had his seatbelt on during the time of the crash, it did not prevent him from hitting his head on the roof of the van when the vehicle rolled over. The jury found GM negligent for failing to test the van and such negligence caused plaintiff's injuries. The district court then granted GM's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law (JML) and set aside the verdict. The trial court also conditionally granted a new trial solely as to damages. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment as to the motion for JML and held that there was legally sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find GM liable for negligent design, specifically for failing to conduct adequate testing. The court affirmed the conditional grant of a partial new trial on damages. View "Bavlsik v. General Motors" on Justia Law

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Congress has expressed no intent to foreclose tort liability against cigarette manufacturers, even if liability may have some negative impact on the sale of cigarettes. But-for causation does not apply in a case of multiple causes, different combinations of which are sufficient to have caused the harm. In this case, after her husband died of lung cancer, plaintiff filed suit against several cigarette manufacturers, including Lorillard, as well as manufacturers of asbestos to which he had been exposed. All defendants settled except Lorillard. The court held that federal law did not preempt plaintiff's claim; Lorillard was not entitled to an instruction that cigarettes were lawful; the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct on but-for causation; there was sufficient evidence that the defective cigarette design was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff's husband's cancer; the trial court did not prejudicially err in excluding evidence of asbestos exposure and causation; and the trial court did not err in refusing to award prejudgment interest for the time the dismissal agreement was in effect. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment in all respects. View "Major v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co." on Justia Law

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Adrienne Scott purchased from Jack Ingram Motors, Inc. ("Jack Ingram"), a new 2015 Nissan Juke automobile, which had been manufactured by Nissan. Scott took the vehicle to Jack Ingram after smelling fuel in the interior of the vehicle. Jack Ingram did not detect the smell; it inspected the fuel system of the vehicle, and found no leaks in the fuel system. Two days later, while Scott was driving the vehicle, it spontaneously caught fire. Scott sued Jack Ingram and Nissan, raising a number of claims stemming from the fire. Jack Ingram moved to compel arbitration of the claims filed against it based on the arbitration agreement Scott had signed in connection with the sale of the vehicle. Scott filed a response indicating that, although she was willing to arbitrate her breach-of-warranty and negligence claims against Jack Ingram, she objected to litigating part of the case, i.e., her claims against Nissan. Scott She indicated in her response that she was willing to arbitrate the case or to litigate the case, but she objected to having to do both. The trial court entered an order holding that, "in the interest of judicial economy," the entire matter should be arbitrated. Nissan filed a motion to reconsider, which the trial court denied. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court concluded the trial court exceeded its discretion by compelling Nissan to arbitrate the claims asserted against it by Scott. The trial court's order was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Nissan North America, Inc. v. Scott" on Justia Law

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In a products liability case, plaintiffs Kawika and Sandra Demara appealed the grant of summary judgment granted in favor of defendants The Raymond Corporation (Raymond) and Raymond Handling Solutions, Inc. (RHSI). As pertinent to the appeal, Plaintiffs asserted claims for strict liability and negligence based on injuries Kawika suffered allegedly as a result of design defects in a forklift designed by Raymond and sold by RHSI. In granting summary judgment, the trial court ruled, in part: (1) Plaintiffs did not establish a triable issue of material fact as to causation; (2) the consumer expectation test did not apply as a matter of law; and (3) for purposes of applying the risk-benefit test, even if Plaintiffs had shown a triable issue of material fact as to causation, Defendants established the requisite elements for the application of the risk-benefit test, and Plaintiffs did not establish a triable issue of material fact as to whether the benefits of the design outweighed the risks of the design. The Court of Appeal concluded that the trial court erred in these rulings: (1) because Plaintiffs' showing as to causation was more than negligible or theoretical, it was sufficient to defeat summary judgment; (2) Defendants did not meet their burden of establishing as a matter of law that the consumer expectation test does not apply to Plaintiffs' claims; and (3) in applying the risk-benefit test, Defendants failed to present sufficient evidence to shift the burden to Plaintiffs to show a triable issue of material fact. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment and remanded with instructions to deny Defendants' motion. View "Demara v. The Raymond Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this products liability action, holding that this was a “close case” in which foreseeability must be resolved by the jury. Plaintiff was injured by a high-density extruder manufactured by Defendant. Plaintiff brought a products liability action against Defendant, alleging failure-to-warn and design-defect claims. The district court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that Defendant did not owe a duty of care to Plaintiff because Plaintiff’s injury was not reasonably foreseeable. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that, viewing all of the evidence and inferences arising from it in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, reasonable persons might differ as to the foreseeability of Plaintiff’s injury under the circumstances. View "Montemayor v. Sebright Products, Inc." on Justia Law