Justia Products Liability Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of California
Berroteran v. Superior Court
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court granting a writ of mandate directing the trial court to issue a new order denying Ford Motor Company's motion to exclude all of Plaintiff's proffered deposition testimony, holding that the court of appeal erroneously construed Wahlgren as establishing a categorical bar to admitted deposition testimony under Cal. Evid. Code 1291(a)(2).Plaintiff, a putative member of a federal multidistrict class action suit against Ford arising from the diesel engine used in some of Ford's vehicles, opted out of a federal suit in order to pursue his own lawsuit. Plaintiff filed ten designations of deposition testimony listing the depositions of nine out-of-state Ford employees or former employees had given deposition testimony in the federal action or in subsequent related California opt-out litigation that Plaintiff proposed to introduce at trial. Ford moved to exclude the proffered testimony, which the trial court granted. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the appellate court’s analysis was incompatible with (1) the established principle that the party proposing to introduce evidence under section 1291(a)(2)’s former testimony exception to the hearsay rule bears the burden of establishing the requirements for admission; and (2) the Legislature’s official comment reflecting its understanding when it enacted the provision at issue as part of the Evidence Code in 1965. View "Berroteran v. Superior Court" on Justia Law
Webb v. Special Electric Co., Inc.
After plaintiff was injured by exposure to asbestos products, he filed suit against a raw asbestos supplier (Special Electric) for failure to warn him about the danger. At issue is the extent of the supplier's duty to warn. Under the sophisticated intermediary doctrine, the supplier can discharge this duty if it conveys adequate warnings to the material's purchaser (in this case, Johns-Manville), or sells to a sufficiently sophisticated purchaser, and reasonably relies on the purchaser to convey adequate warnings to others, including those who encounter the material in a finished product. Special Electric arguably forfeited the sophisticated intermediary defense by failing to present it to the jury. However, assuming the defense was preserved, the record does not establish as a matter of law that Special Electric discharged its duty to warn by reasonably relying on a sophisticated intermediary. The evidence is disputed about whether Special Electric consistently provided warnings to Johns-Manville during the relevant time frame; although the record clearly shows Johns-Manville was aware of the risks of asbestos in general, no evidence established it knew about the particularly acute risks posed by the crocidolite asbestos Special Electric supplied; plaintiffs presented evidence that at least one Special Electric salesperson told customers crocidolite was safer than other types of asbestos fiber, when the opposite was true; and the record does not establish as a matter of law that Special Electric actually and reasonably relied on Johns-Manville to warn end users like plaintiff about the dangers of asbestos. Accordingly, the court concluded that the trial court did not err in granting judgment notwithstanding the verdict because substantial evidence supports the jury's verdict against Special Electric. View "Webb v. Special Electric Co., Inc." on Justia Law