Justia Products Liability Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
Perry v. Kia Motors America, Inc.
Plaintiff Kamiya Perry appealed a judgment entered in favor of defendant Kia Motors America, Inc. (Kia) after a jury found in favor of Kia in her automobile defect trial. On appeal, she argued: (1) the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to instruct the jury that Kia had concealed evidence (certain engineering documents) during discovery; (2) the trial court erred by excluding the testimony of Kia’s paralegal who verified discovery requests relevant to the engineering documents; and (3) she was not given a fair trial because the jurors were required to deliberate in a small room, which, in the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, incentivized the jury to complete their deliberations quickly. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Perry v. Kia Motors America, Inc." on Justia Law
Nicholas Brunts v. Walmart, Inc.
Plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit against Walmart in the Circuit Court for St. Louis County, Missouri. Plaintiff alleged Walmart engaged in misleading and deceptive marketing practices by selling cough suppressants with dextromethorphan hydrobromide (“DXM”) and a “non-drowsy” label. Walmart removed the case to the Eastern District of Missouri, and Plaintiff moved to have the case remanded to state court. The district court remanded, finding Walmart had not met the Class Action Fairness Act’s jurisdictional requirement of showing the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. The Eighth Circuit reversed, finding that Walmart has shown the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. The court concluded that Walmart’s declaration was sufficient to support a finding that sales exceeded $5 million. The total amount of sales can be a measure of the amount in controversy. The court explained that the declaration was sufficient, particularly when it is very plausible that a company the size of Walmart would have sold more than $5 million in cough suppressants in the state of Missouri over a period of five years. View "Nicholas Brunts v. Walmart, Inc." on Justia Law
MacNaughton v. Young Living Essential Oils, LC
The National Advertising Division (“NAD”), a self-regulatory organization, concluded that Defendant Young Living Essential Oils, LC’s (“Young Living”) claims that its oils are “therapeutic-grade” and impart physical and/or mental health benefits are “unsupported,” and recommended that Young Living stop making these claims. Plaintiff had already spent money on Young Living’s products, including lavender oil advertised to “promote [a] feeling of calm and fight occasional nervous tension” and peppermint oil that allegedly “helps to maintain energy levels.” Feeling misled by claims that the products would have effects like “promoting feelings of relaxation & tranquility,” Plaintiff sued, on behalf of herself and other similarly situated individuals, asserting claims under common law and various state statutes that she believes protect consumers like her against companies like Young Living. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s suit, finding that Young Living’s claims that its products would do things like “help to maintain energy levels” was run-of-the-mill puffery that companies use when trying to persuade potential customers to part with their dollars. The Second Circuit vacated in part and affirmed in part. The court vacated the district court’s ruling insofar as it dismissed the New York General Business Law claims for being based on statements of non-actionable puffery and the unjust enrichment claim for not satisfying the Rule 9(b) requirement. The court affirmed the ruling as to the dismissal of the breach of warranty claims. The court found that Plaintiff’s stated the circumstances constituting fraud with sufficient particularity to satisfy Rule 9(b) and certainly with enough particularity to give fair notice of her claim and enable the preparation of a defense. View "MacNaughton v. Young Living Essential Oils, LC" on Justia Law
Madrigal v. Hyundai Motor America
Plaintiffs Oscar and Audrey Madrigal sued defendant Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) under California’s automobile lemon law. Early in the case, Hyundai made two offers to compromise under Code of Civil Procedure section 998, both of which were rejected. After a jury was sworn in, plaintiffs settled with Hyundai for a principal amount that was less than Hyundai’s second section 998 offer. The parties elected to leave the issue of costs and attorney fees for the trial court to decide upon motion. Under the settlement agreement, once the issue of costs and attorney fees was resolved and payment was made by Hyundai, plaintiffs would dismiss their complaint with prejudice. The issue this case presented for the Court of Appeal's review centered on whether section 998’s cost-shifting penalty provisions apply when an offer to compromise is rejected and the case ends in settlement. Under the facts of this case, the Court held that it did and therefore reversed the order of the trial court. View "Madrigal v. Hyundai Motor America" on Justia Law
River’s Side at Washington Sq. Homeowners Assn. v. Superior Court
Plaintiff River’s Side at Washington Square Homeowners Association was established to manage a development consisting of 25 residential units and common areas. It sued Defendants River’s Side LLC et al. for construction defects in the residential units. Defendants demurred to six of the seven causes of action asserted against them, arguing a homeowners association lacked standing to sue on behalf of its members for defects in residential units that it did not own and had no obligation to repair. Plaintiff alleged it had standing to bring this action on behalf of its members pursuant to Civil Code section 945, Civil Code section 5980, and Code of Civil Procedure section 382. The trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend, holding that Plaintiff lacked standing under Civil Code sections 945 and 5980, and that Code of Civil Procedure section 382 was inapplicable. Because the order sustaining the demurrer left one cause of action remaining, it was not immediately appealable, and Plaintiff thus challenged the order by petition for writ of mandate. The Court of Appeal concluded Plaintiff had standing to bring claims for damages to the common areas pursuant to Civil Code sections 945 and 5980, and that it at least nominally alleged such damages. The Court further concluded Plaintiff might have standing to bring claims for damages to the residential units that sound in contract or fraud if it could meet the requirements for bringing a representative action pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 382. The Court also determined Plaintiff should have been granted leave to amend to cure any standing defect. The Court thus granted the petition for mandamus relief and directed the trial court to reversed its order granting the demurrer. View "River's Side at Washington Sq. Homeowners Assn. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law
MATT YAMASHITA V. LG CHEM, LTD., ET AL
Plaintiff brought this products-liability suit against LG Chem, Ltd. (“LGC”) and LG Chem America, Inc. (“LGCA”), claiming that they negligently manufactured and distributed a battery that he used to power an electronic cigarette until the battery, and electronic cigarette both exploded in his mouth. Plaintiff sued LGC and LGCA in Hawaii state court, bringing various state-law claims related to the design, manufacture, labeling, advertising, and distribution of the subject battery. LGC and LGCA were timely removed from Hawaii state court to the District Court for the District of Hawaii and then moved to dismiss Yamashita’s complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Yamashita opposed the motions and moved for jurisdictional discovery. The district court denied Yamashita’s motion for jurisdictional discovery. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court held that Ford modified, but did not abolish, the requirement that a claim must arise out of or relate to a forum contact in order for a court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction. The panel explained that while LGC and LGCA’s Hawaii contacts clearly showed that they purposefully availed themselves of Hawaii law, they can only be subject to specific personal jurisdiction if Plaintiff’s injuries arose out of or related to those contacts. The panel held that Plaintiff had not shown that his injuries arose out of any contacts because he had not shown but-for causation. The panel concluded that the district court’s denial of jurisdictional discovery was not an abuse of discretion. View "MATT YAMASHITA V. LG CHEM, LTD., ET AL" on Justia Law
Keralink International, Inc. v. Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Plaintiff KeraLink is a non-profit corporation with its headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, and operated a network of eye banks in many states. KeraLink purchased from third-party vendors medical equipment and supplies, including “surgical packs” containing “eyewash” used to irrigate the eye tissue. KeraLink purchased the custom-designed surgical packs at issue here from defendant Stradis Healthcare, LLC (Stradis), which has its headquarters in Georgia. At issue on appeal is whether the district court erred in awarding summary judgment to Plaintiff on its claim against two suppliers of contaminated eyewash used to remove donated eye tissue for future transplant. The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that under the facts presented here, neither supplier was entitled to invoke the sealed container defense, an affirmative defense reserved for only certain types of sellers. Additionally, the economic loss rule barring liability for solely economic losses in a tort claim was inapplicable because KeraLink also sought damages for injury to property, namely, the recovered eye tissue rendered unusable by the contaminated eyewash. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion under Maryland law in awarding the plaintiff prejudgment interest. View "Keralink International, Inc. v. Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals Corporation" on Justia Law
Kpiele-Poda v. Patterson-UTI Energy, et al.
In 2018, Mwande Serge Kpiele-Poda ("Employee") was injured at a wellsite while repairing a conveyor that activated and crushed his legs. While Employee's Workers' Compensation claim was still pending, he filed a petition asserting negligence and products liability against his employers, two wellsite operators, and the manufacturers and distributors of the conveyor. Ovintiv Mid-Continent, Inc. was named in the body of the petition but omitted from the caption. After the statute of limitations period expired, Employee amended his petition to add Ovintiv Mid-Continent, Inc. as a defendant in the petition's caption. A second amended petition added other parties. Ovintiv Mid-Continent, Inc. moved to dismiss arguing the claim was time-barred because the amended petition did not relate back to the first petition. Employee's employers also moved to dismiss arguing the Administrative Workers' Compensation Act and Oklahoma precedent precluded employees from simultaneously maintaining an action before the Workers' Compensation Commission and in the district court. The district court granted each dismissal motion and certified each order as appealable. The Oklahoma Supreme Court retained and consolidated Employee's separate appeals, holding: (1) the district court erred when it dismissed Employee's action against Ovintiv Mid-Continent, Inc. as time-barred; and (2) the district court properly dismissed Employee's intentional tort action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Kpiele-Poda v. Patterson-UTI Energy, et al." on Justia Law
In re Subpoena Issued to Dethmers Manufacturing Co. v. Mittapalli
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court refusing to quash subpoenas that required production of documents and testimony for use in a Louisiana products liability lawsuit, holding that the subpoenas imposed undue burdens on Dethmers Manufacturing Company, an Iowa firm.The plaintiff in the products liability used Iowa's interstate discovery procedures to serve subpoenas on Dethmers, who was not a party to the Louisiana suit. The subpoenas required Dethmers to produce twenty-two categories of documents and testimony that were "extraordinarily broad." After Dethmers unsuccessfully moved to quash the subpoenas Dethmers brought this appeal. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for entry of an order quashing the subpoenas, holding that the subpoenas were overly burdensome on their face and should be quashed. View "In re Subpoena Issued to Dethmers Manufacturing Co. v. Mittapalli" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Iowa Supreme Court, Products Liability
Anderson v. Raymond Corp.
While working as a standup forklift operator, Anderson hit a bump and fell onto the floor. The forklift continued moving and ran over her leg; the resulting injuries necessitated its amputation. Anderson sued the forklift’s manufacturer, Raymond, alleging that the forklift was negligently designed. The parties disputed the admissibility of the testimony of Dr. Meyer, one of Anderson’s experts. Meyer believed that Raymond could have made several changes to its design that would have prevented Anderson’s accident. Meyer’s primary suggestion was a door to enclose the operating compartment, which would prevent operators from falling into the forklift’s path. Like other standup forklift manufacturers, Raymond offers doors as an option but does not fit doors to its forklifts as standard, claiming that a door could impede the operator’s ability to make a quick exit if the forklift runs off a loading dock or begins to tip over. The district court concluded that Meyer’s opinion about a door was inadmissible because it did not satisfy Federal Rule of Evidence 702 or the “Daubert” test but admitted Meyer’s opinions on other potential design improvements.The Seventh Circuit reversed a judgment in Raymond's favor. The exclusion of Meyer’s opinion was substantially prejudicial to Anderson’s case. Meyer has a “full range of practical experience," academic, and technical training and his methodology rested on accepted scientific principles, Raymond’s critiques go to the weight his opinion should be given rather than its admissibility. View "Anderson v. Raymond Corp." on Justia Law