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Mazda Motor Corporation ("Mazda") appealed a judgment entered against it on two jury verdicts resulting from two product liability claims filed in Alabama. The claims stemmed from an accident involving a “Mazda 3” driven by then 16-year-old Sydney McLemore, with 15-year-old Natalie Hurst as a passenger. McLemore was driving 55 miles per hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone when she lost control of the car; the car spun around and hit a light pole before coming to a stop, then burst into flames. McLemore suffered third-degree burns covering approximately 15 percent of her body; Hurst died from burn injuries. Hurst’s parents filed suit against Mazda and McLemore, asserting wrongful death, and pertinent here, product liability claims. Specifically, they alleged that Mazda erred by designing the 2008 Mazda 3 so that a plastic fuel tank was positioned one-half inch from a steel muffler that had sharp protruding edges so that when hit, the muffler's sharp edge cut the fuel tank, causing the fuel tank to fail and allowing gasoline vapors to escape and to ignite, which caused the post-collision fuel-fed fire. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded after review of the trial court record that the trial court did not err with respect to the admission of certain expert testimony. McLemore’s wantonness claim should not have been submitted to the jury, and the judgment must be reversed insofar as it included an award based on that claim. The record did not support an award of punitive damages in connection with McLemore’s claim against Mazda. Further, Mazda has failed to present any argument that would counsel in favor of a remittitur of the Hursts' damages award on their wrongful-death claim, and, therefore, the jury's $3.9 million award in favor of the Hursts and against Mazda. The trial court was therefore affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for further proceedings. View "Mazda Motor Corporation v. Hurst" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Marline and Joseph Petitpas filed suit against Exxon, Ford, and others, alleging that exposure to asbestos caused by defendants resulted in Marline's mesothelioma. The Court of Appeal held that summary adjudication for Exxon appropriately was granted because the evidence did not show that Exxon was within the stream of commerce for any asbestos-containing products, and Exxon did not have a duty to Marline regarding secondary exposure because Marline was not a member of Joseph's household at the relevant time; nonsuit as to Rossmoor was appropriate because the causation evidence against Rossmoor presented at trial was insufficient to support a verdict for plaintiffs; jury instructions relating to Ford accurately reflected the law, and Ford was not liable under a design defect theory for products it did not manufacture or supply; because the court affirmed the defense verdict in favor of Ford, plaintiffs' challenge to the summary adjudication of punitive damages claims against Ford was moot; and since plaintiffs have not demonstrated that they were entitled to a verdict in their favor as to Exxon as a matter of law, there was no basis for reversing the defense verdict in favor of Exxon. View "Petitpas v. Ford Motor Co." 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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Plaintiff filed a products liability suit against McNeil and its corporate parent, Johnson & Johnson, after he suffered a severe reaction after taking Motrin. The Court of Appeal held that the jury's verdict finding McNeil liable for negligent failure to warn must be reversed because it was fatally inconsistent with the verdict finding McNeil not liable for strict liability failure to warn; the negligent failure to warn special verdict was also defective because of the failure to include the necessary question whether a reasonable manufacturer under the same or similar circumstances would have warned of the danger; the verdicts against McNeil for negligent and strict liability design defect, as well as against Johnson & Johnson for strict liability design defect, must be reversed, because the design defect claims were based on a theory—failure to sell dexibuprofen—that was impliedly preempted; the strict liability design defect verdicts must also be reversed because the jury found McNeil and Johnson & Johnson liable solely under the consumer expectation test, but that test did not apply when, as here, the question of design defect involved complex questions of feasibility, practicality, risk, and benefit beyond the common knowledge of jurors; and none of plaintiffs' design defect claims could be retried. View "Trejo v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law

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Robert Johnson brought a products liability case against Cottrell Inc. and Auto Handling Corp. At the conclusion of Johnson’s case the trial court directed a verdict in favor of Auto Handling on all of Johnson’s theories against it. The jury returned verdicts in favor of Johnson on his claims against Cottrell of negligence as submitted in Instruction 10 and of strict liability failure to warn as submitted in Instruction 13. The trial court entered judgment against Cottrell on the negligence verdict for $1,150,332. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court erred in granting Auto Handling’s motion for directed verdict; and (2) Instruction 10 was error, and because the error was prejudicial the judgment in favor of Johnson on his negligence claims against Cottrell is reversed. Because of the intertwined nature of the evidence and the various theories against the two defendants, the case is remanded for retrial as to the negligent maintenance and inspection claim against Auto Handling and as to Johnson’s negligence claims and strict liability failure to warn claim against Cottrell. View "Johnson v. Auto Handling Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against S&N for negligence, product liability, breach of contract, and misrepresentation. Plaintiff's claims stemmed from his decision to get S&N's metal-on-metal hip replacement system and the injuries he says it caused him. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the negligence claim to the extent it relies on an improper training or failure to warn theory of liability; affirmed the dismissal of the breach of contract claim; and reversed the dismissal of the negligence claim and strict product liability claims premised on manufacturing defect, as well as his misrepresentation claim. The court explained that these surviving claims were cognizable Florida common law causes of action and were not preempted by federal law. View "Mink v. Smith & Nephew, Inc." 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

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In this design-defect product-liability case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the case for Plaintiff's failure to prosecute and to comply with scheduling orders. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendants. Plaintiff served no discovery before the discovery deadline, and Plaintiff’s counsel did not at the outset retain an expert. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the absence of any expert testimony was fatal to Plaintiff’s case. The district court subsequently granted Plaintiff’s request to reopen discovery, set a new expert-disclosure deadline and other requests for time extensions without any sanction. After the extended deadline for filing an opposition to the motion for summary judgment came without Plaintiff’s opposing the motion, the district court dismissed the case for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with scheduling orders. The district court denied Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration. The First Circuit affirmed. View "McKeague v. One World Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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The district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this design defect and failure to warn action. Bernardino Santos-Rodriguez was riding in a boat when a corroded rod end that was part of the boat’s steering mechanism failed, resulting in a loss of steering and ejecting Santos from the boat. Santos sustained extensive injuries. Santos and four relatives sued Seastar Solutions, the manufacturer of the boat’s steering mechanism, alleging a design defect and a failure to warn. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Seastar. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Santos could not prove that any failure to warn or design defect in the steering rod caused his injuries; and (2) because the district court properly granted summary judgment on Santos’s underlying claims, his relatives’ derivative claims cannot succeed. View "Santos-Rodriguez v. Seastar Solutions" on Justia Law

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While working on his employer’s roof, Cripe was exposed to fumes from PUR‐FECT LOK® 834A, a glue made by Henkel. and containing methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI). Cripe claims that exposure to MDI caused him neurological and psychological problems, which could have been avoided by better warnings. The district court granted Henkel summary judgment, ruling that a toxic‐tort claim under Indiana law depends on expert proof of causation and that the Cripe had not produced such evidence. Cripe identified only one expert—Robinson, a specialist in the language of warnings, who disclaimed any opinion on causation. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Cripe had not disclosed treating physicians as experts under FRCP 26(a)(2)(A). The fact that Robinson attached the physicians’ reports to her own did not indicate that they would function as experts. Rule 26(a)(2) requires more than disclosure of a potential expert’s name; documents attached to Robinson’s report did not contain any of the required information. Most of the physicians’ evaluations summarized Cripe’s symptoms and proposed treatment without discussing causation. None suggested a mechanism by which MDI would have caused the symptoms. By contrast, Henkel provided the district court with a comprehensive evaluation of MDI prepared by the World Health Organization. View "Cripe v. Henkel Corp." on Justia Law