Justia Products Liability Opinion Summaries
Estate of Gabriel Miranda, Jr. v. Navistar, Inc.
Plaintiffs, the estate and surviving parents of thirteen-year-old Gabriel Miranda, Jr., filed a products liability action against Navistar for the wrongful death of their son. Gabriel fell to his death after opening the rear emergency exit of a school bus while it was travelling at highway speed.The Fifth Circuit concluded that the district court correctly dismissed this suit on the ground that a federal regulation promulgated by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 217 (FMVSS 217), conflicts with and therefore preempts a state common law duty to include an automatic lock. The court agreed with the district court's reading of FMVSS 217 that a school bus manufacturer must outfit school buses with rear emergency exits that can be opened in only one way: by operating a manual release mechanism. Therefore, the court reasoned that it would be impossible to comply with the regulation while implementing the electronic locking mechanism change argued for by plaintiffs. View "Estate of Gabriel Miranda, Jr. v. Navistar, Inc." on Justia Law
Plourde v. Sorin Group USA, Inc.
The First Circuit posed a question of Massachusetts state law to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in this negligence and failure to warn case, holding that this case met the both the SJC's and this Court's certification standards.Appellants sued Sorin Group USA, Inc. in Massachusetts state court alleging negligence and failure to warn claims predicated on Sorin's not reporting adverse events to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerning Mitroflow malfunctions in young patients. Sorin removed the lawsuit to federal court under diversity jurisdiction. The trial court judge granted summary judgment to Sorin, concluding that Appellants' claims were preempted. At issue on appeal was whether Massachusetts law imposes a duty on medical device manufacturers to report adverse events to the FDA that no more than parallel the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and FDA regulations. The First Circuit certified to the SJC the question of whether a manufacturer's failure to report adverse events to a regular such as the FDA gives rise to liability under Massachusetts law. View "Plourde v. Sorin Group USA, Inc." on Justia Law
Seguin v. Remington Arms Company, LLC
The Fifth Circuit certified a question to the Louisiana Supreme Court: Does Section 9:2800.60(B) of the Louisiana Products Liability Act bar an individual, who is shot and injured by a third-party, from bringing a design defect claim under Section 9:2800.56 against a firearm manufacturer or seller? View "Seguin v. Remington Arms Company, LLC" on Justia Law
Utah Physic. for Healthy Env’t v. Diesel Power Gear, et al.
Defendants’ businesses focused on large diesel trucks and related parts, merchandise, and media. In 2017 Defendants were sued by Plaintiff Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE), a nonprofit organization that alleged, among other things, that Defendants were tampering with required emission-control devices and installing so-called “defeat devices” in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Utah’s State Implementation Plan. After a bench trial the court entered judgment in favor of UPHE, finding Defendants collectively liable for hundreds of violations of the CAA and Utah’s plan and assessing over $760,000 in civil penalties. On appeal Defendants challenged UPHE’s Article III and statutory standing, the district court’s inclusion of certain kinds of transactions in its tabulation of violations, and the court’s penalty analysis. Although the Tenth Circuit rejected most of Defendants’ arguments, it felt compelled to remand this case back to the district court for additional proceedings because: (1) UPHE lacked Article III standing to complain of conduct by Defendants that had not contributed to air pollution in Utah’s Wasatch Front; and (2) the district court needed to reevaluate the seriousness of Defendants’ violations of the Utah plan’s anti-tampering provision. View "Utah Physic. for Healthy Env't v. Diesel Power Gear, et al." on Justia Law
In re Polaris, Inc. v. Polaris, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of prohibition sought by Polaris, Inc. to prevent disclosure of a report in the underlying product-liability lawsuit brought by Colby Thompson, holding that Polaris failed to demonstrate that it was entitled to the writ.Under federal consumer safety processes and policies Polaris was subject to a government safety investigation and potential enforcement action. To conduct an audit into its safety process and policies, Polaris retained outside counsel, who provided a thirty-two page report that included recommendations to improve compliance performance. In the underlying litigation with Thompson, Polaris inadvertently disclosed the audit report during discovery and then sought to claw the document back, asserting that it was protected by the attorney-client privilege. The district court denied the claw-back request but did permit redactions of the report's legal advice. Polaris' request for a writ of prohibition followed. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the writ, holding that the district court did not clearly err by finding that the predominant purpose of the report was business advice and was therefore discoverable. View "In re Polaris, Inc. v. Polaris, Inc." on Justia Law
Nemirovsky v. Daikin North America, LLC
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the superior court judge's directed verdict in favor of DACA Delaware Dissolution Trust (DACA Trust) and Stebbins Duffy, a manufacturer's representative of Daikin Industries' products, on Ofer Nemirovsky's claims for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability and vacated the judgment entered against Daikin North America, LLC (Daikin NA), holding that the court erred in part.The trial judge declined to apply the "component parts doctrine" to the nondefective component distributed by Daikin NA because the component was not itself a "standalone" product and was designed specifically for use in the integrated product. The judge then granted directed verdict for Defendants on Nemirovsky's claims for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability against the original sellers of the HVAC system. The Supreme Judicial Court (1) vacated the judgment entered against Daikin NA, holding that the component parts doctrine precluded liability; and (2) affirmed the judge's directed verdict for Defendants on Nemirovsky's claims for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability against the original sellers of the HVAC system, holding that the claims were time barred. View "Nemirovsky v. Daikin North America, LLC" on Justia Law
Normandy v. American Medical Systems, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court concluding that Defendant, as a hospital, was not a product seller for purposes of imposing strict liability under the Connecticut Product Liability Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-572m et seq., under the circumstances of this case, holding that the trial court did not err.Plaintiff brought this complaint alleging injuries arising from Defendant's violations of, among other things, the product liability act, the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq., and common law. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that Defendant was not a product seller for purposes of imposing strict liability under the product liability act and that Plaintiff's CUTPA and common law claims were time barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Defendant provided general information regarding various medical procedures on its website and did not significantly participate in placing the medical device at issue into the stream of commerce Defendant was not a product seller for purposes of imposing strict liability under the product liability act; and (2) the statutes of limitations governing Plaintiff's remaining claims were not tolled. View "Normandy v. American Medical Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
Floyd County Mutual Insurance Ass’n v. CNH Industrial America LLC
After a tractor manufactured by CNH caught fire, Floyd filed suit against CNH in federal court under a theory of product liability, claiming that its insureds owned the tractor and other property on the tractor, both of which were damaged in the fire, and that Floyd was subrogated to its insureds' claims against CNH because Floyd had paid its insureds' claim for the damage. The district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1332.The Eighth Circuit affirmed and concluded that section 1332's amount-in-controversy requirement was not satisfied in this case. The court concluded that the Iowa Supreme Court would hold that the economic-loss doctrine permits recovery only for the other property and not for the product itself. Accordingly, the Iowa Supreme Court would bar recovery in tort for damage that a defective product causes to itself, even if the plaintiff also seeks recovery for damage to other property. Here, Floyd's recovery is limited as a matter of law to the alleged $22,787.81 in damage to property other than the tractor. The court denied the motion to certify a question of law to the Iowa Supreme Court and upheld the district court's dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Floyd County Mutual Insurance Ass'n v. CNH Industrial America LLC" on Justia Law
Blackburn v. Shire US Inc.
Blackburn, who has Crohn’s disease, was prescribed LIALDA, an anti-inflammatory drug specifically aimed at the gut. LIALDA is not FDA-approved to treat Crohn’s, but it is approved to treat ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s “sister” disease. Blackburn was subsequently diagnosed with advanced-stage kidney disease. Blackburn does not claim that Shire, LIALDA’s manufacturer failed to warn of the risk of kidney disease; he and his doctor knew that the drug might impair his kidney function. Blackburn contends that Shire should have more explicitly warned his doctor about how regularly to monitor his kidney function after prescribing LIALDA. He contends that, if LIALDA’s warning label had been better, his physician would have discovered the effect on his kidneys sooner and prevented his injury.The Eleventh Circuit identified two unsettled, dispositive questions of Alabama law, which it certified to the state’s highest court. May a pharmaceutical company’s duty to warn include a duty to provide instructions about how to mitigate warned-of risks? May a plaintiff establish that an improper warning caused his injuries by showing that his doctor would have adopted a different course of testing or mitigation, even though he would have prescribed the same drug? View "Blackburn v. Shire US Inc." on Justia Law
Gall v. Smith & Nephew, Inc.
Smith’s hip resurfacing implant consists of a metal ball that covers the top of the femur and a cup that fits inside the hip socket. When a surgeon puts these ball-and-cup surfaces in the joint, the polished metal surfaces are supposed to allow smoother movement than the damaged bone or cartilage they replace. Gall, who had hip resurfacing surgery for his left hip, recovered and became physically active. Years later, convinced his implant was unsatisfactory, Gall sued Smith.Gall argued that Smith failed to properly warn Gall’s surgeon, Dr. Hernandez, about the risks of using Smith’s product. The trial court granted Smith summary judgment because Hernandez independently knew these risks and whether Smith gave Hernandez redundant warnings did not matter. Gall also argued that Smith’s product was defective. The trial court granted summary judgment because Gall did not show anything was wrong with his implant. Gall did show Smith’s quality control procedures once failed to satisfy regulatory authorities, but the court concluded this fact did not imply the parts Gall received were defective. The court of appeal affirmed. Gall’s claims share the same causation element and Gall did not establish causation. View "Gall v. Smith & Nephew, Inc." on Justia Law