Justia Products Liability Opinion Summaries

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Ryan Lawhon alleged he was severely injured when an 18650 lithium-ion battery he bought from a San Diego vape shop suddenly exploded in his pants pocket. In addition to the vape shop and vape distributor, he sued LG Chem Ltd. (LG Chem), the South Korean manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries for negligence and product liability. The trial court denied LG Chem’s motion to quash service of summons for lack of personal jurisdiction, finding the court’s exercise of specific jurisdiction over LG Chem comported with federal due process. LG Chem petitioned the California Court of Appeal for a writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate its order denying the motion to quash. The Court issued the writ: LG Chem sold 18650 batteries as industrial component products to original equipment manufacturers and battery packers who sell to original equipment manufacturers. It did not design, manufacture, distribute, advertise or sell the batteries for sale to or use by individual consumers as standalone, replaceable batteries. It had no connection to the vape shop or the vape distributor responsible for selling the defective battery that injured Lawhon. Its activities in California consisted of sales of 18650 batteries to three California companies in the electric vehicle industry for use in electric vehicles. The question presented was whether Lawhon’s personal injury claims arose from or related to those sales, to which the Court concluded they did not. Thus, the Court granted the petition and directed the trial court to vacate its order denying the motion to quash, and to enter a new order granting the motion. View "LG Chem, Ltd. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Larry Lang appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Cabela's Wholesale, LLC ("Cabela's"), in his product-liability action against Cabela's based on the alleged failure of a hunting tree stand. On November 29, 2016, Lang was starting to climb down the ladder of a hunting tree stand. A telescoping mechanism in the ladder failed, and Lang fell to the ground and was severely injured. As a result, he had limited ability to walk, incurred significant medical bills, and incurred expenses to modify his home. The Alabama Supreme Court found that under the clear language of 6-5-521(b)-(d), Ala. Code 1975, commonly known as the innocent-seller act, Cabela's was not entitled to a summary judgment on Lang's claims against Cabela's as the seller of the tree stand. Cabela's was entitled to a summary judgment, however, on Lang's claims against Cabela's as the designer and manufacturer. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in part and reversed it in part. View "Lang v. Cabela's Wholesale, LLC." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition sought by LG Chem, Ltd., a defendant in a products-liability action pending before Judge Michael Goulding in the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, holding that LG Chem did not demonstrate a patent and unambiguous lack of personal jurisdiction in the trial court.LG Chem filed a motion to dismiss the underlying products-liability action for lack of personal jurisdiction, which Judge Goulding denied without a hearing. Thereafter, LG Chem filed this action seeking a writ of prohibition preventing Judge Goulding from exercising jurisdiction over the action. The Supreme Court denied the requested writ of prohibition, holding that LG Chem failed to show that there was a patent and unambiguous lack of personal jurisdiction over it in the trial court. View "LG Chem, Ltd. v. Goulding" on Justia Law

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The United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia certified questions of law to the Georgia Supreme Court, all involving OCGA § 40-8-76.1 (d), the “seatbelt statute.” The federal court asked whether the statute precluded a defendant in an action alleging defective restraint system design and/or negligent restraint system manufacture from producing evidence related to: (1) The existence of seatbelts in a vehicle as part of the vehicle’s passenger restraint system; or (2) Evidence related to the seatbelt’s design and compliance with applicable federal safety standards; or (3) An occupant’s nonuse of a seatbelt as part of their defense. The Supreme Court concluded OCGA § 40-8-76.1 (d) did not preclude a defendant in an action alleging defective restraint-system design or negligent restraint-system manufacture from producing evidence related to the existence of seatbelts in a vehicle as part of the vehicle’s passenger restraint system. Furthermore, the Court concluded the statute did not preclude such defendants from producing evidence related to the seatbelt’s design and compliance with applicable federal safety standards. Finally, the Court concluded OCGA § 40 -8-76.1 (d) precluded consideration of the failure of an occupant of a motor vehicle to wear a seatbelt for the purposes set forth in subsection (d), even as part of a defendant-manufacturer’s defense. View "Domingue, et al. v. Ford Motor Company" on Justia Law

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The plaintiff in this product liability case obtained a money judgment to compensate him for personal injuries he sustained in a car accident. The judgment debtor, the manufacturer of plaintiff’s car, appealed, and a division of the court of appeals reversed the judgment. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the division’s judgment on different grounds and remanded the matter for a new trial. On remand, plaintiff prevailed again, obtaining a new money judgment. The parties agreed that the nine percent interest rate applied from the date of the accident until the date of the appealed judgment (the first judgment). But the parties disagreed on the applicable interest rate between entry of that judgment and satisfaction of the final judgment (the second judgment). The Colorado Supreme Court held that whenever the judgment debtor appeals the judgment, the interest rate switches from nine percent to a market-based rate. "The outcome of the appeal is of no consequence; the filing of any appeal of the judgment by the judgment debtor triggers the shift in interest rate." Further, the Court held that the market-based postjudgment interest on the sum to be paid had to be calculated from the date of the appealed judgment. Thus, the market-based postjudgment interest rate applied from the date of the appealed judgment (the first judgment) through the date the final judgment (the second judgment) is satisfied. View "Ford Motor Company v. Walker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiffs' premises liability claims against Alcoa Inc. and on their products liability claims against Iowa-Illinois Taylor Insulation, Inc. (IITI) for supplying asbestos-containing insulation in the Alcoa plant, holding that the district court erred.At issue was the provision in Iowa Code 686B.7(5) that a "defendant in an asbestos action or silica action shall not be liable for exposures from a product or component part made or sole by a third party." In the instant asbestos case, the district court read the statute to limit liability to manufacturers of the asbestos-containing product at issue. The district court held that section 686B.7(5) granted immunity to Alcoa and IITI because the asbestos-containing insulation was manufactured by third parties. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court failed to appreciate the legal significance of the legislature's use of the phrase "produce or component part made or sold by a third party" to reference a products liability defense known as the component parts defense as described in the specific context of asbestos litigation. View "Beverage v. Alcoa, Inc." on Justia Law

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Donaldson sought treatment for stress urinary incontinence and anterior pelvic organ prolapse. In 2010, to remedy these conditions, Dr. Schultheis surgically implanted in Donaldson two transvaginal polypropylene mesh medical devices. Both were manufactured by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. In 2014, Donaldson sought treatment for injuries resulting from erosion of the mesh into her bladder, vagina, and adjacent tissues, causing scarring, bladder stones, and abdominal pain, among other problems. Information sheets packaged with the devices warned of the risks of erosion but Donaldson never saw the warnings and contends that Dr. Schultheis did not inform her of these risks. Dr. Schultheis testified that he was aware of the possible complications and that he believed that the benefits of the devices outweighed the risks. He also testified that, in implanting the devices, he followed all of the manufacturer’s instructions.The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the manufacturers. Although there is no doubt that Donaldson suffered severe and painful complications after the devices were implanted, she failed to produce sufficient evidence to avoid summary judgment in her case for non-specific defects under Illinois product liability law. There was no evidence eliminating abnormal use or secondary causes, or that the device failed to perform as expected. View "Donaldson v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court accepted and answered two certified questions of law regarding whether Plaintiff's claims pursuant to the Connecticut Product Liability Act (CPLA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-572m et seq., were preempted by federal law and held that the CPLA's exclusivity provision, section 52-572n, barred Plaintiff's claims.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) a cause of action exists under the negligence or failure-to-warn provisions of the CPLA or elsewhere in Connecticut law based on a manufacturer's alleged failure to report adverse events to a regulator like the United States Food and Drug Administration following approval of the device or to comply with a regulator's postapproval requirements; and (2) CPLA's exclusivity provision bars a claim under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq., based on allegations that a manufacturer deceptively and aggressively marketed and promoted a product despite knowing that it presented a substantial risk of injury. View "Glover v. Bausch & Lomb, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was severely burned when the landing gear on a tanker-trailer detached from its tractor and sank into a gravel surface, causing the tanker-trailer to tip over and spill scalding water on him. Plaintiff brought a premises liability claim against the owner of the property and product liability claims against the owner of the tanker-trailer and three related companies. The district court dismissed his product liability claims on the pleadings and his premises liability claim on summary judgment.The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not apply the proper standard for evaluating the plausibility of George’s pleadings under Federal R. of Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6). Further, the court held that the district court erroneously concluded that Chapter 95 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code governed Plaintiff's premises liability claim. Thus the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "George v. SI Grp, et al" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the the district court's grant of summary judgment against the owner of a premanufactured grain bin that collapsed and dismissal of other claims, holding that there was no merit to any of the owner's assigned errors.The owner of the grain bin filed this lawsuit seeking damages from multiple defendants involved in designing, manufacturing, and constructing the grain storage facility, alleging various claims. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly applied the correct statutes of repose to the owner's various claims. View "Ag Valley Co-operative v. Servinsky Engineering, PLLC" on Justia Law