Justia Products Liability Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana
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The Supreme Court answered in the negative a question certified from the federal district court and held that Ind. Code 34-20-3-1(b) is a statute of repose that cannot be extended by a manufacturer's post-delivery repair, refurbishment, or reconstruction of a disputed product. Plaintiff was injured while working on a machine owned by his employer, who purchased the machine from Defendant eleven years before Plaintiff's injury. Plaintiff filed a product-liability suit against Defendant in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana based on the court's diversity jurisdiction. Both parties agreed that strict application of the Indiana Products Liability Act's ten-year statute of repose would bar Plaintiff's suit but acknowledged a judicially-created exception to the statute of repose according to which rebuilding or reconditioning a product might create a "new product" restarting the statutory clock. The Supreme Court accepted the federal district court's certified question and answered it in the negative, holding that the Act's statute of repose contains no exception for a product's repair, refurbishment, or reconstruction. View "Estabrook v. Mazak Corp" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s defective design claim, holding that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, Plaintiff’s misuse of a tool was the cause of his injuries and could not have been reasonably expected by Defendant, the tool’s manufacturer. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the tool was defective in its design. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the evidence established that Plaintiff misused the tool by failing to follow its directions. The trial court found that Plaintiff misused the tool and that he was at least fifty-one percent responsible for his injuries. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for Defendant, holding (1) the misuse defense serves as a complete defense; and (2) Plaintiff’s injuries could have been avoided had he followed the instructions, and Defendant could not reasonably expect that a consumer would misuse the tool in the manner that Plaintiff did. View "Campbell Hausfeld/Scott Fetzer Co. v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, two separate couples, brought suit seeking damages stemming from asbestos-caused diseases. Several Defendants in each case moved for summary judgment. In the first lawsuit, which led to two interlocutory appeals, the trial court denied Defendants’ motions for summary judgment. In the second lawsuit, the trial court entered summary judgment for Defendants as a final judgment. At issue in each appeal was the trial court’s ruling on a motion for summary judgment asserting the ten-year statute of repose included in Indiana’s Product Liability Act. In all three appeals, which the Supreme Court consolidated, Plaintiffs requested reconsideration of the Court’s prior holding in AlliedSignal v. Ott. The Supreme Court (1) declined to reconsider Ott’s holdings with respect to statutory construction due to the principles of stare decisis and legislative acquiescence; but (2) concluded that the Product Liability Act’s statute of repose did not bar Plaintiffs’ claims, as the Act’s statute of repose does not apply to cases such as these where the plaintiffs have had protracted exposure to inherently dangerous foreign substances. View "Myers v. Crouse-Hinds Div. of Cooper Indus., Inc." on Justia Law