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The State of California prevailed in a representative public nuisance action against ConAgra, NL, and Sherwin-Williams. The trial court ordered the defendants to pay $1.15 billion into a fund to be used to abate the public nuisance created by interior residential lead paint in the ten counties represented by the state. The court of appeal affirmed in part, noting that the absence of a regulation or statute declaring interior residential lead paint to be unlawful does not bar a court from declaring it to be a public nuisance. The court reversed in part, holding that substantial evidence did not support causation as to residences built after 1950, and remanded to the trial court with directions to recalculate the amount of the abatement fund to limit it to the amount necessary to cover the cost of remediating pre-1951 homes, and hold an evidentiary hearing regarding the appointment of a suitable receiver. View "People v. ConAgra Grocery Products Co." on Justia Law

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In this products liability case, the issue before the Colorado Supreme Court was whether the trial court erred when it gave a jury instruction that allowed the jury to apply either the "consumer expectation test" or the "risk-benefit test" to determine whether a driver’s car seat was unreasonably dangerous due to a design defect. The court of appeals concluded that the trial court did err by instructing the jury separately on the consumer expectation test, because the test already comprises an element of the risk-benefit test. The Supreme Court affirmed on different grounds. Previously, the Court determined the risk-benefit test was appropriate test to assess whether a product was unreasonably dangerous due to a design defect where the dangerousness of the design is “defined primarily by technical, scientific information.” The consumer expectation test, by contrast, was “not suitable” in such a case. Here, the jury was tasked with determining whether a car seat was unreasonably dangerous due to a design defect - a determination that, as evidenced by the extensive expert testimony at trial, required consideration of technical, scientific information. Thus, the Court surmised the proper test under which to assess the design’s dangerousness was the risk-benefit test, not the consumer expectation test. Therefore it was error for the trial court to instruct the jury on both tests, thereby allowing it to base its verdict on the consumer expectation test alone. Furthermore, the Court held that the jury’s separate finding of negligence did not render the instructional error harmless. View "Walker v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law

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To seek redress for an opioid epidemic, characterized by the Court of Appeal as having placed a financial strain on state and local governments dealing with the epidemic’s health and safety consequences, two California counties sued (the California Action) various pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, including the appellants in this matter, Actavis, Inc., Actavis LLC, Actavis Pharma, Inc., Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Watson Laboratories, Inc., and Watson Pharma, Inc. (collectively, “Watson”). The California Action alleged Watson engaged in a “common, sophisticated, and highly deceptive marketing campaign” designed to expand the market and increase sales of opioid products by promoting them for treating long-term chronic, nonacute, and noncancer pain - a purpose for which Watson allegedly knew its opioid products were not suited. The City of Chicago brought a lawsuit in Illinois (the Chicago Action) making essentially the same allegations. The issue presented by this appeal was whether there was insurance coverage for Watson based on the allegations made in the California Action and the Chicago Action. Specifically, the issue was whether the Travelers Property Casualty Company of America (Travelers Insurance) and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company (St. Paul) owe Watson a duty to defend those lawsuits pursuant to commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies issued to Watson. Travelers denied Watson’s demand for a defense and brought this lawsuit to obtain a declaration that Travelers had no duty to defend or indemnify. The trial court, following a bench trial based on stipulated facts, found that Travelers had no duty to defend because the injuries alleged were not the result of an accident within the meaning of the insurance policies and the claims alleged fell within a policy exclusion for the insured’s products and for warranties and representations made about those products. The California Court of Appeal concluded Travelers had no duty to defend Watson under the policies and affirmed. View "The Traveler's Property Casualty Company of America v. Actavis, Inc." on Justia Law

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To seek redress for an opioid epidemic, characterized by the Court of Appeal as having placed a financial strain on state and local governments dealing with the epidemic’s health and safety consequences, two California counties sued (the California Action) various pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, including the appellants in this matter, Actavis, Inc., Actavis LLC, Actavis Pharma, Inc., Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Watson Laboratories, Inc., and Watson Pharma, Inc. (collectively, “Watson”). The California Action alleged Watson engaged in a “common, sophisticated, and highly deceptive marketing campaign” designed to expand the market and increase sales of opioid products by promoting them for treating long-term chronic, nonacute, and noncancer pain - a purpose for which Watson allegedly knew its opioid products were not suited. The City of Chicago brought a lawsuit in Illinois (the Chicago Action) making essentially the same allegations. The issue presented by this appeal was whether there was insurance coverage for Watson based on the allegations made in the California Action and the Chicago Action. Specifically, the issue was whether the Travelers Property Casualty Company of America (Travelers Insurance) and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company (St. Paul) owe Watson a duty to defend those lawsuits pursuant to commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies issued to Watson. Travelers denied Watson’s demand for a defense and brought this lawsuit to obtain a declaration that Travelers had no duty to defend or indemnify. The trial court, following a bench trial based on stipulated facts, found that Travelers had no duty to defend because the injuries alleged were not the result of an accident within the meaning of the insurance policies and the claims alleged fell within a policy exclusion for the insured’s products and for warranties and representations made about those products. The California Court of Appeal concluded Travelers had no duty to defend Watson under the policies and affirmed. View "The Traveler's Property Casualty Company of America v. Actavis, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court for Plaintiff in this action brought pursuant to Connecticut’s Product Liability Act under strict liability and negligence theories, holding that Plaintiff failed to prove both that the product at issue was unreasonably dangerous and that it was a legal cause of the decedent’s fatal lung disease. In the complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the decedent was exposed to asbestos-containing products while working for Defendant and that Defendant’s actions in selling such asbestos-containing products constituted violations of the Act. After Plaintiff rested her case, Defendant moved for a directed verdict. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion as well as Defendant’s motion to set aside the verdict and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict following the jury’s verdict in Plaintiff’s favor. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was insufficient evidence to show that the product at issue was dangerous or that it was a legal cause of the decedent’s mesothelioma, and therefore, the trial court improperly denied Defendant’s motion for a directed verdict and motion to set aside the verdict and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. View "Bagley v. Adel Wiggins Group" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging breach of express warranty under Texas law, after a Medtronic device implanted in his back to relieve pain did not last as long as the company promised. The Fifth Circuit held that the warranty on Medtronic's website goes beyond what the FDA considered and thus the narrow breach of express warranty claim plaintiff asserted was not preempted by the FDA regulation. The court explained that a verdict finding that Medtronic misled consumers like plaintiff in making this representation would not undermine any FDA finding concerning the safety of the device. Rather, it would be enforcing a duty that also exists under federal law: to not make misleading representations about the device. To escape such liability, Medtronic would not need to redesign the device, but only to limit its warranties to those approved by the FDA. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wildman v. Medtronic, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lyons sued Colgate, alleging that she developed mesothelioma from the use of Colgate’s Cashmere Bouquet cosmetic talcum powder. Colgate manufactured Cashmere Bouquet from 1871 to 1985 and continued marketing it until 1995 when the Environmental Protection Agency reported that the presence of asbestos in talc makes it a human carcinogen. The talc used in Cashmere Bouquet came from three different sources. Lyons presented evidence that talc from each of the sites contained some form of asbestos. The court of appeal reversed the entry of summary judgment in favor of Colgate. The trial court failed to comply with Code of Civil Procedure section 437c(g), requiring a written order specifying the reasons for its determination and “specifically refer[ring] to the evidence proffered in support of and, if applicable, in opposition to the motion that indicates no triable issue exists.” Its tentative ruling indicated only its view that “Plaintiff failed to submit evidence to create a triable issue whether she was exposed to asbestos-containing products or materials attributable to defendant.” The record contains substantial evidence creating a triable issue as to whether Cashmere Bouquet contained asbestos that may be found to have been a substantial cause of plaintiff’s mesothelioma. View "Lyons v. Colgate-Palmolive Co." on Justia Law

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This products liability lawsuit centered on Risperdal. Louise Taylor began suffering psychotic episodes when she was seventy-one years old, in early 1998. From March 1998 to January 2001, Psychiatrist Richard Rhoden prescribed Risperdal to Taylor for the treatment of her recurrent psychotic manifestations. In February 2001, Taylor developed tardive dyskinesia, a syndrome of potentially irreversible, involuntary, dyskinetic movements in patients treated with antipsychotic drugs. In 2002, Taylor filed a complaint against Ortho-McNeil Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer, seller, and distributer of Risperdal, and its parent company Johnson & Johnson (collectively “Janssen”), claiming that Risperdal caused her to develop tardive dyskinesia. Taylor also named her treating physician, Dr. Richard Rhoden, as a defendant in her complaint. Taylor settled her claims against Dr. Rhoden prior to trial. The case went to trial oin 2014. The jury, in a nine to three decision, found that Taylor was harmed by Risperdal due to: (1) Janssen’s “failure to provide adequate warnings/instructions” and (2) Janssen’s “negligent marketing/misrepresentation.” The jury awarded Taylor $650,000 in actual economic damages and $1.3 million in noneconomic damages, for a total damages award of $1,950,000. On review, the Mississippi Supreme Court held that, as a matter of law, the Risperdal in question contained an adequate warning; the Court reversed and rendered the statutory inadequate warning judgment. Furthermore, the Court held that various errors in the jury instructions required reversal of the plaintiff’s verdict that sounded in negligent misrepresentation, and the Court reversed and remanded the negligent misrepresentation claim. View "Johnson & Johnson, Inc. v. Fortenberry" on Justia Law

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BSC appealed from various orders and a final judgment in favor of plaintiff, who alleged substantial injuries caused by the Pinnacle Pelvic Floor Repair Kit that was manufactured and sold by BSC. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment for plaintiff, holding that the district court acted well within its discretion in consolidating four lawsuits and BSC could not establish that it was prejudiced by the consolidation of the suits; the district court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded BSC's 510(k) review process evidence; the district court did not err by declining to overturn the jury's verdict where plaintiff provided sufficient evidence in her favor, so her claims were properly reserved for the jury; the district court did not err by denying judgment as a matter of law to BSC on plaintiff's failure to warn claims; and the district court did not err by denying judgment as a matter of law to BSC on its argument that plaintiff's claims were time barred. View "Eghnayem v. Boston Scientific Corp." on Justia Law

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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