Justia Products Liability Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Colorado Supreme Court
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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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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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The issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court's review centered on whether the trial court erred in concluding that defendant Ford Motor Company was subject to general personal jurisdiction in Colorado, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in "Daimler A.G. v. Bauman," (134 S. CT. 746 (2014)). This case arose out of a 2013 accident in Colorado in which plaintiff John Magill's 2007 Ford Fusion collided with a vehicle driven by defendant Mark Polunci. Magill (and his wife) alleged that Ford, as manufacturer of the Fusion, was liable for Mr. Magill's serious injuries based on three causes of action sounding in tort. Ford moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. After review, the Colorado Court determined that the record did not support a finding that Ford was "essentially at home" in Colorado, and therefore not subject to general personal jurisdiction here, "maintaining a registered agent in the state does not convert a foreign corporation to a resident." Because none of the parties resided in Denver and the accident did not occur there, the Supreme Court concluded venue was not appropriate where the action was originally filed, in Denver County. The Supreme Court remanded this case for the trial court to transfer this case to an appropriate venue. The proper venue would then determine whether Ford was subject to specific jurisdiction. View "Magill v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law