Justia Products Liability Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Ortega Garcia v. United States
Patricia Guadalupe Garcia Cervantes, a Mexican citizen who was attempting to enter the United States illegally by swimming across the Brownsville Ship Channel, was struck and killed by a Coast Guard vessel patrolling the area. Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of his and Cervantes' daughter, filed suit alleging negligence and wrongful death claims against the United States, as well as products liability, gross negligence, and wrongful death claims against the manufacturers of the vessel and its engines, Safe Boats and Mercury Marine.After determining that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction based on admiralty, the Fifth Circuit concluded that, notwithstanding plaintiff's own lack of standing, he may still maintain claims as next-of-friend for his daughter. Reviewing the district court's grant of summary judgment and its duty determination de novo, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims. The court held that the negligence claim failed because the United States owed no duty to Cervantes; the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's defective design claims against Safe Boats and Mercury Marine where Cervantes lacked standing to bring those claims under Section 402A of the Second Restatement in regard to maritime products liability claims; even assuming plaintiff could bring these products liability claims, plaintiff failed to show that the asserted defective products proximately caused Cervantes' death; plaintiff's failure-to-warn claims were also properly dismissed; and the district court correctly dismissed the wrongful death claims after dismissing all the underlying tort claims. The court rejected plaintiff's remaining claims and affirmed the dismissal. View "Ortega Garcia v. United States" on Justia Law
McMillan v. Amazon.com, Inc.
The Fifth Circuit certified the following question to the Supreme Court of Texas: Under Texas products-liability law, is Amazon a "seller" of third-party products sold on Amazon's website when Amazon does not hold title to the product but controls the process of the transaction and delivery through Amazon's Fulfillment by Amazon program? View "McMillan v. Amazon.com, Inc." on Justia Law
Kuykendall v. Accord Healthcare, Inc.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint alleging that she used defendants' prescription chemotherapy drug and now suffers from permanent hair loss. As a plaintiff in this multidistrict litigation (MDL), plaintiff was required to serve defendants with a completed fact sheet disclosing details of her personal and medical history soon after filing her short form complaint. She failed to do so in this case.The court applied the Deepwater Horizon two-factor test to the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's case and held that the district court was not required to make specific factual findings on each of the Deepwater Horizon prongs before dismissing plaintiff's case. The court explained that plaintiff exhibited a clear record of delay sufficient to meet the first prong in the Deepwater Horizon test, and lesser sanctions would not have served the best interests of justice. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. View "Kuykendall v. Accord Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law
Hale v. Metrex Research Corp.
Claiming that she suffered injuries when her dentist soaked her dentures in CaviCide disinfecting solution, which is manufactured by Metrex, plaintiff filed suit against Metrex, the dentist, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and others.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings to Metrex on plaintiff's claim that Metrex failed to warn and label its product adequately. The court held that plaintiff's failure to warn claim failed as a matter of law because she admitted in her complaint that CaviCide's label warned against the specific use that allegedly caused her injuries. In this case, plaintiff conceded that the use of CaviCide to disinfect dentures or any surface or instrument that contacts mucous membranes is prohibited by the CaviCide label. Furthermore, plaintiff maintained that her injures were caused by the dentist's failure to follow manufacturer's instructions clearly printed on the label for the proper use of the product. View "Hale v. Metrex Research Corp." on Justia Law
Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s v. Axon Pressure Products Inc.
This dispute arose from a 2013 oil well blowout on the HERCULES 265 drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. After the rig's charterer filed suit raising products liability claims against a refurbisher of the rig's blowout-prevention components, counterclaims and third-party claims ensued. The district court subsequently granted a series of summary judgments, based both on contractual indemnity and also on the merits of the liability claims.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to Hercules' duty to defend, hold harmless, and indemnify Axon; reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to Walter's duty to directly indemnify Axon; reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to Walter's duty to indemnify Hercules for Axon's claims; vacated the district court's order excluding Bellemare's testimony; vacated the district court's orders excluding the expert reports of Sones, Bourgoyne, Williams, Rusnak, Bellemare, and Adair, as well as the orders excluding the affidavits of Sones and Bourgoyne; reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the causation and "unreasonably dangerous condition" prongs of the Louisiana Products Liability Act; vacated the district court's final judgment and fee orders; and remanded for further proceedings. View "Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's v. Axon Pressure Products Inc." on Justia Law
Smith v. Chrysler Group, L.L.C.
Smith was killed while driving a 2013 Jeep Wrangler, manufactured by Chrysler. Days after the crash, Chrysler sent out a Recall Notice: the transmission oil cooler (TOC) tube of some 2012 and 2013 Wranglers might leak, which could cause a fire in the underbody of the vehicle. Smith’s Jeep was never inspected for the defect before his accident and the wrecked Jeep was not preserved for a post-accident inspection. Days after the crash, the scene of the accident was photographed, showing what appears to be charred grass along the path Smith’s Jeep traveled after leaving the road. Smith’s family sued, asserting strict products liability, negligence, breach of warranty, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, claiming that the recall defect caused a fire in the Jeep's underbody, filling the passenger compartment with carbon monoxide, so that Smith lost consciousness and ran off the road. The Fifth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Chrysler. The court properly excluded a supplemental report by plaintiff’s expert, which failed adequately to connect newly disclosed information and conclusions that Smith’s Jeep had a defect and that the alleged defect caused a fire. Even if there was a defect, there was no evidence that it caused a fire in Smith’s Jeep or that the fire caused the crash. The court upheld an award of costs to Chrysler, despite plaintiffs’ “impoverished condition.” View "Smith v. Chrysler Group, L.L.C." on Justia Law
Sandifer v. Hoyt Archery, Inc.
After Dr. Alan Sandifer was pierced in the head by the cable guard of his 2007 Hoyt Vulcan XT500 bow, his family filed suit against Hoyt Archery and its insurers under the Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA) alleging that the compound bow was defectively designed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding most of the testimony of plaintiffs' primary expert. In this case, plaintiffs failed to show how the accident occurred, because the expert's response to Hoyt's theory was based on unscientific and unhelpful propensity evidence that was not reasonably relied upon by experts in the biomechanical field and consequently failed to satisfy Daubert's requirements for the admissibility of expert opinion. View "Sandifer v. Hoyt Archery, Inc." on Justia Law
Allen v. Walmart Stores, LLC
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against defendants after plaintiff's daughter died from inhaling a large quantity of aerosol dust remover in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The court held that plaintiff's negligence claim based on premises liability failed because she did not plead that there were any issues with the conditions of the premises, and because Wal-Mart did not owe the daughter any duty of care regarding her purchase or abuse of dust remover. Furthermore, Wal-Mart was not liable for negligent entrustment under Restatement (Second) of Torts 390 and under Texas laws, and Wal-Mart employees were not liable in their individual capacities. The court affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to remand and motion to alter or amend the complaint. View "Allen v. Walmart Stores, LLC" on Justia Law
Williams v. Manitowoc Cranes, LLC
Plaintiff filed suit against Manitowoc Cranes after her husband, John, was injured in a crane accident that rendered him physically and mentally incapacitated. The jury ruled for plaintiff, finding that Manitowoc failed to warn Model 16000 Series crane operators that, if the crane tips over, large weights stacked on the rear of the crane can slide forward and strike the operator's cab.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's final judgment against Manitowoc for $2.8 million in actual economic damages and $600,000 in non-economic damages. The court held that Manitowoc was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the failure-to-warn claim where Manitowoc's warning was inadequate, and the inadequate warning proximately caused John's injuries. In this case, Manitowoc's misuse allegations did not convince the court that John's alleged misuse proximately caused his injuries, and the jury had an adequate basis for finding that an alternative warning could have communicated valuable additional information about the falling counterweight danger, allowing John to avoid injury. Finally, the court rejected Manitowoc's expert and evidentiary challenges. View "Williams v. Manitowoc Cranes, LLC" on Justia Law
Christopher v. Johnson & Johnson
These appeals and cross-appeal stemmed from the Pinnacle Hip multidistrict litigation (MDL). After plaintiffs received Pinnacle's metal-on-metal design, suffered complications, and required revision surgery, plaintiffs secured a half-billion-dollar jury verdict. Both plaintiffs and defendants appealed. The Fifth Circuit held that only a few of plaintiffs' claims failed as a matter of law but that the district court's evidentiary errors and plaintiff's counsel's deceptions furnished independent grounds for a new trial. In this case, counsel concealed payments to two key expert witnesses. Therefore, DePuy was entitled to judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) on Greer's and Peterson's defective marketing claims; J&J was entitled to JMOL on all plaintiffs' aiding-and-abetting claims; and the remaining claims avoided JMOL, although a new trial was required. View "Christopher v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law