Justia Products Liability Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting Defendant's motion to dismiss the product liability claim against it, holding that the trial court did not err in concluding that personal jurisdiction was not authorized under Connecticut's applicable long-arm statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 33-929(f).Section 33-929(f) subjects foreign corporations to suit brought by a resident of the state on a cause of action "arising out of" the corporation's distribution of goods with the reasonable expectation that the goods are intended to be used, and are so used, in Connecticut. At issue was whether Defendant's contacts with Connecticut were sufficiently "related to" the litigation to satisfy Connecticut's long-arm statute and specific personal jurisdiction under the due process clause. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss, concluding that the "arise out of or relate to" requirement was not met in this case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to establish that their claim against Defendant arose from or related to Defendant's forum contacts. View "Adams v. Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co." on Justia Law

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A transportation company, Wasatch Transportation, Inc., needed three buses to comply with a state contract. Compliance required "particularly durable buses" because the routes would exceed 350 miles in inclement weather with substantial changes in elevation. Wasatch bought Synergy buses from the manufacturer, Forest River, Inc., based on assurances from a Forest River sales personnel that the buses were “[q]uality buses” that Forest River “would take really good care of” and would “be amazing when they were done.” For each bus, Forest River provided a warranty packet containing three limitations: (1) the warranty covered only repair costs; (2) the warranty was exclusive, taking the place of other possible warranties; and (3) the warranty provided the buyer’s only remedy for defects under any legal theory. After the purchase, the buses developed mechanical problems. Even after the bus was repaired, it continued to break down. Another bus broke down soon after the purchase and was usable only a third of the next year. Given the breakdowns, Wasatch allegedly had to buy another bus to comply with the state contract; but the state cancelled the contract anyway. Wasatch thereafter sued Forest River for: breach of an express warranty; breach of an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose; and fraud. The district court granted summary judgment to Forest River, reasoning that its warranty packet prevented any relief. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals determined there were genuine issues of material fact to preclude the district court's grant of summary judgment. That judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Wasatch Transportation v. Forest River" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff regularly used Roundup on his lawn for about 30 years until 2016. Around 2016, Plaintiff was diagnosed with malignant fibrous histiocytoma, which he believes was linked to the compound glyphosate, the main chemical ingredient in Roundup. Plaintiff filed suit against Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup. In his four-count complaint, Plaintiff alleged strict liability for a design defect under Georgia law (Count I); strict liability for failure to warn under Georgia law Count II); negligence under Georgia law (Count III); and breach of implied warranties under Georgia law (Count IV).   On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit was tasked with deciding whether the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiff’s failure to warn claim was preempted under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Ac (FIFRA) because the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) had classified glyphosate as not likely to be carcinogenic to humans and approved the Roundup label. The Eleventh Circuit concluded it did and reversed the district court’s ruling. The court held that Plaintiff’s Georgia failure to warn claim is not preempted by the federal requirements under the FIFRA or the EPA actions pursuant to it. View "John D. Carson v. Monsanto Company" on Justia Law

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Gregory and Sue Tadych filed suit after the one-year limitation period to bring a construction defect suit expired. The trial court entered summary judgment, dismissing the suit and upholding the contractual limitation. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Washington Supreme Court found the contractual limitation here was substantively unconscionable and, therefore, void and unenforceable. "The one-year limitation provision provides a substantially shorter limitations period than plaintiffs are otherwise entitled to under RCW 4.16.310 and benefits the contractor at the expense of the rights of the homeowner." Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for trial. View "Tadych v. Noble Ridge Constr., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Chad Defries suffered injuries while riding a Yamaha dirt bike. He sued the U.S. distributor of that dirt bike, defendant-respondent Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. (Yamaha), among others, asserting that the accident was caused by a throttle assembly that fell off the handlebar as he was riding. The jury found in Yamaha’s favor, and the trial court later awarded Yamaha costs. On appeal, Defries contended, among other things, that the trial court erroneously denied his request to instruct the jury that Yamaha was liable for its dealer’s negligent assembly of the dirt bike, a ruling that limited Defries’s negligence cause of action to Yamaha’s own negligence. The Court of Appeal found that California law, however, placed “responsibility for defects, whether negligently or nonnegligently caused, on the manufacturer of the completed product . . . regardless of what part of the manufacturing process the manufacturer chooses to delegate to third parties.” The same principle applied to distributors. And as the distributor of a completed product, Yamaha “cannot delegate its duty . . . [and thus] cannot escape liability on the ground that the defect in [Defries’s bike] may have been caused by something one of its authorized dealers did or failed to do.” If the dealer negligently assembled the product, Yamaha was jointly liable for damages caused by that negligence. Because the requested instruction should have been given, the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment on the negligence cause of action, and affirmed in all other respects. View "Defries v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A." on Justia Law

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Michael Galier brought a negligence and products liability action against Defendant-Appellant Murco Wall Products, Inc., a Texas manufacturer. Galier alleged exposure to Murco's products caused him to contract mesothelioma. The Oklahoma County District Court denied Murco's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and, following a jury trial, granted judgment to Galier. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied certiorari. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari, vacated the Court of Civil Appeals' decision, and remanded for reconsideration in light of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017). The Court of Civil Appeals reaffirmed the district court. The Oklahoma Supreme Court previously granted certiorari to address whether the Court of Civil Appeals properly found that Oklahoma possesses specific personal jurisdiction over Murco, and determined that it did: " 'relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation' "--supported specific jurisdiction. View "Galier v. Marco Wall Products" on Justia Law

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In this opinion, the Supreme Court answered two certified questions from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concerning the relationship between Hawaii's general long-arm statute, Haw. Rev. Stat. 634-35, and the personal jurisdiction limitations of the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause.Plaintiff, a Hawaii resident, brought a product liability action against two out-of-state corporations in Hawai'i state court. The suit was removed to the United States District court for the District of Hawaii, which dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction because Plaintiff's claims did not "arise out of" Defendants' activities. The Ninth Circuit certified questions to the Supreme Court regarding the reach of Hawaii's long-arm statute. The Supreme Court answered (1) a Hawaii court may assert personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state corporate defendant if the plaintiff's injury "relates to" but does not "arise from" the defendant's in-state acts enumerated in Hawaii's general long-arm statute; and (2) a Hawaii court may assert personal jurisdiction to the full extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in light of Ford Motor Co. v. Mont. Eighth Judicial District Court, 141 S.Ct. 1017 (2021). View "Yamashita v. LG Chem, Ltd " on Justia Law

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This case presented a question of whether Mississippi courts had personal jurisdiction over a South Korean battery manufacturer whose goods were in the stream of commerce in Mississippi. The Mississippi Plaintiff, Melissa Dilworth, was seriously injured when one of LG Chem Ltd.’s (LG Chem) lithium-ion batteries exploded in her vaping pen. LG Chem and its Georgia-based subsidiary, LG Chem America, argued successfully before the circuit court that they lacked sufficient minimum contacts with Mississippi to satisfy the constitutional standard for exercising personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants. On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that manufacturer LG Chem purposefully availed itself of the market for its product in Mississippi such that the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction comported with due process principles. The Supreme Court also found that dismissal of subsidiary LG Chem America was premature; therefore, judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for jurisdictional discovery. View "Dilworth v. LG Chem, Ltd. et al." on Justia Law

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Defendants were California residents who served in various capacities as officers or directors of JUUL Labs, Inc. (“JUUL”), an e-cigarette manufacturer, or its predecessor companies. The State of Colorado filed an amended complaint alleging that defendants in their individual capacities, along with JUUL as a corporation, violated several provisions of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (“CCPA”) and were subject to personal jurisdiction in Colorado. Defendants contended the district court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over them was improper because they lacked the requisite minimum contacts with Colorado and the exercise of personal jurisdiction over them was unreasonable under the circumstances. JUUL did not argue that the district court lacks personal jurisdiction over it. The Colorado Supreme Court concluded that because: (1) the district court based its determination on allegations directed against JUUL and the group of defendants as a whole, rather than on an individualized assessment of each defendant’s actions; and (2) the State did not allege sufficient facts to establish either that defendants were primary participants in wrongful conduct that they purposefully directed at Colorado, or that the injuries alleged in the amended complaint arose out of or related to defendants’ Colorado-directed activities, the district court erred in finding that the State had made a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction in this matter. View "In re State of Colorado v. Juul Labs, Inc." on Justia Law

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After Plaintiff-appellant David Salazar bought Walmart, Inc.’s “Great Value White Baking Chips” incorrectly thinking they contained white chocolate, he filed this class action against Walmart for false advertising under various consumer protection statutes. The trial court sustained Walmart’s demurrers without leave to amend, finding as a matter of law that no reasonable consumer would believe Walmart’s White Baking Chips contain white chocolate. The thrust of Salazar's claims was that he was reasonably misled to believe the White Baking Chips had real white chocolate because of the product’s label and its placement near products with real chocolate. Salazar also alleged that the results of a survey he conducted show that 90 percent of consumers were deceived by the White Baking Chips’ advertising and incorrectly believed they contained white chocolate. “California courts . . . have recognized that whether a business practice is deceptive will usually be a question of fact not appropriate for decision on demurrer. ... These are matters of fact, subject to proof that can be tested at trial, even if as judges we might be tempted to debate and speculate further about them.” After careful consideration, the Court of Appeal determined that a reasonable consumer could reasonably believe the morsels had white chocolate. As a result, the Court found Salazar plausibly alleged that “‘a significant portion of the general consuming public or of targeted consumers, acting reasonably in the circumstances, could be misled’” by the chips' advertising. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Salazar v. Walmart, Inc." on Justia Law