Justia Products Liability Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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After James Wurster suffered fatal burns when a gas can manufactured by TPG exploded as he was burning garbage on this farm, his wife filed suit against TPG. The jury rendered a take-nothing verdict under Iowa's comparative fault scheme and found TPG forty-five percent at fault for Mr. Wurster's death due to its failure to provide adequate warnings on the gas can and apportioning the balance of the fault to Mr. Wurster. The Eighth Circuit affirmed and held that plaintiff's design defect claim was sufficiently presented to the jury; the district court did not err by instructing the jury on reasonable alternative design; and there was no prejudicial error in giving the assumption of risk instruction. The court also held that the district court did not err by granting judgment as a matter of law to TPG on the post-sale failure to warn claim because plaintiff presented insufficient evidence to show TPG had a post-sale duty to warn consumers of the danger posed by its W520 gas cans. View "Wurster v. The Plastics Group" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order limiting the scope of plaintiff's general causation phase discovery in this products liability suit alleging that plaintiff's husband's use of Enbrel caused his myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) which resulted in his death. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in limiting the scope of plaintiff's general causation discovery; the district court's basis for weighing proportionality was based on common sense and the search conducted by plaintiff's counsel during the discovery hearing; the district court did not rely on misrepresented facts by Amgen in issuing its discovery orders; any error in failing to provide plaintiff an opportunity to cross-examine Amgen's expert was harmless; the district court was under no obligation to order Amgen to provide plaintiff with materials the FDA requests—but does not require—from pharmaceutical companies when the agency evaluates safety risks; and plaintiff's assertion that the district court's order limiting the scope of her discovery prejudiced her case was rejected. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing sanctions under Rule 11 and by imposing sanctions under 28 U.S.C. 1927. Finally, the district court properly exercised its inherent power to sanction plaintiff's counsel, and here was no abuse of discretion View "Vallejo v. Amgen, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed the underlying action against BNSF after he was injured when the backrest of his locomotive seat broke, and alleged that the seat did not comply with the federal standards in the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA). BNSF settled a Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) claim with plaintiff. BNSF then filed suit against Seats to recover the costs of settlement. The Eighth Circuit reversed and held that the district court erred in determining that the LIA preempted BNSF's claims for products liability and breach of contract. Because the district court did not address defendant's other grounds for dismissal of the two claims, the court remanded for further proceedings on those alternative arguments. View "BNSF Railway Co. v. Seats, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jeffery Oppedahl and his family filed suit against Mobile Drill after Jeffery was injured in an accident involving a truck-mounted drill auger that left him a quadriplegic. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Mobile Drill on plaintiffs' negligent entrustment claim involving the auger and the related consortium claims. The court held that the refurbishment exception did not apply here and that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiffs' negligence and strict liability claims based on the running of the Iowa statute of repose. Even if the exception applied, plaintiffs' claim would still be barred where the existing case law in which courts have adopted a refurbishment exception to statutes of repose requires that the refurbishment be completed by the party being held accountable for the harm. In this case, it was IDOT, not Mobile Drill, that conducted the auger refurbishment. The court also held that the Iowa Supreme Court likely would not apply negligent entrustment against a product manufacturer when the claim relates to the sale of the product. Assuming that negligent entrustment applied, plaintiffs' claim failed where there was insufficient evidence to support a claim that Mobile Drill had knowledge that IDOT would use the auger in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical harm or that it was foreseeable to Mobile Drill that IDOT would use the auger in an unsafe way. View "Oppedahl v. Mobile Drill International Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing several products liability claims brought against Jones Stephens Corporation by Apex Oil. Applying Arkansas law to this dispute, the court held that the district court properly dismissed the strict liability claim where Apex did not present sufficient evidence that Jones Stephens's product was unreasonably dangerous; the district court properly dismissed the negligence and negligent failure to warn claims where Apex did not present evidence showing a causal connection between voids created by the manufacturing process and a structural failure of the parts; and the district court properly dismissed Apex's claim that Jones Stephens acted deceptively and unconscionably by advertising a "Leak proof seal" on the label of the plastic coupling nut where there was insufficient evidence that Apex's water damage was a result of the alleged deceptive trade practice. View "Apex Oil Company, Inc. v. Jones Stephens Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against GM after was involved in an accident where he sustained a cervical-spinal cord injury that rendered him a quadriplegic. Plaintiff was in a GMC Savana van and, although he had his seatbelt on during the time of the crash, it did not prevent him from hitting his head on the roof of the van when the vehicle rolled over. The jury found GM negligent for failing to test the van and such negligence caused plaintiff's injuries. The district court then granted GM's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law (JML) and set aside the verdict. The trial court also conditionally granted a new trial solely as to damages. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment as to the motion for JML and held that there was legally sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find GM liable for negligent design, specifically for failing to conduct adequate testing. The court affirmed the conditional grant of a partial new trial on damages. View "Bavlsik v. General Motors" on Justia Law

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Alex Lindholm's parents filed suit against BMW after Alex died when a jack supplied by his car's manufacturer fell and killed him. Alex and his father used the jack to raise the car off the ground so that they could make repairs, the jack fell on Alex when he was lying underneath the car. The Eighth Circuit held, under South Dakota law, that Alex's misuse of the jack was not foreseeable as a matter of law, given the warnings that accompanied the jack about lying under the vehicle. Therefore, BMW was entitled to summary judgment as to the strict liability claim. In regard to the negligence and negligent-design claims, Alex's misuse of the jack also constituted contributory negligence, which barred plaintiffs from recovering. The court affirmed summary judgment as to these claims. Finally, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on the implied-warranties claim and the wrongful-death claim. View "Lindholm v. BMW of North America, LLC" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of an accident that killed three people and injured others. Family members of the deceased and the driver filed suit against Toyota alleging various claims. The jury found that the driver was 40 percent at fault and Toyota was 60 percent at fault for the collision. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of a limited number of substantially similar incidents; the district court did not abuse its broad discretion by allowing plaintiff's expert's opinion under FRE 702; the district court did not err by denying Toyota's motion for judgment as a matter of law where plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence from which a jury could find that the 1996 Camry contained a design defect; the district court erred in awarding prejudgment interest and vacated the award of prejudgment interest to Plaintiff Trice; and Trice's award should not be reduced by the amount that Plaintiff Devyn previously recovered from the driver and the driver's insurers. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Adams v. Toyota Motor Corp." on Justia Law