Justia Products Liability Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's denial of SprayFoamPolymers.com LLC's special appearance contesting personal jurisdiction, holding that the court of appeals erred in dismissing SprayFoam from Plaintiffs' suit for lack of jurisdiction.Plaintiffs built a home in Texas, purchased spray foam insulation services from a Texas-based installation company, and suffered injuries in Texas allegedly arising from the insulation. Plaintiffs sued several defendants, parties in the chain of distribution, seeking to hold them liable for their alleged injuries. SprayFoam, the manufacturer of the insulation, filed a special appearance contesting personal jurisdiction. The trial court denied the special appearance. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to establish either general or specific personal jurisdiction over SprayFoam. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that SprayFoam had sufficient minimum contact with Texas such that the exercise of specific jurisdiction over SprayFoam will not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. View "Luciano v. SprayFoamPolymers.com, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff's claims stemmed from his exposure to asbestos when working with boilers manufactured by Weil-McLain, now a division of MW. The jury concluded that Weil-McLain was negligent and that its negligence was a proximate cause of plaintiff's injuries, entering judgment for plaintiff against MW for $5,489,688.68. The trial court denied post-judgment motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and new trial.The Court of Appeal concluded that the evidence of causation presented at trial would have been sufficient under Michigan law to support the jury's verdict. However, the trial court's instructions to the jury regarding causation reflected California law, not Michigan law. The court concluded that the trial court improperly instructed the jury on Michigan law and that the error was prejudicial. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded to the trial court for retrial. View "Swanson v. The Marley-Wylain Co." on Justia Law

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Linda Black sustained second-degree burns on her back while undergoing electrotherapeutic treatment at Superior Physical Therapy (“SPT”). Black’s treatment was performed by Bart McDonald, a licensed physical therapist and the sole owner of SPT. Black brought a product liability claim against the manufacturer and seller of the self- adhesive carbon electrode pads used during her treatment. The manufacturer moved for summary judgment on the grounds that Black was unable to prove that the electrode pads were defective or that the injuries Black sustained were proximately caused by its negligence. The district court ruled that: (1) McDonald’s conclusory statements that the electrode pads were defective were inadmissible because he was not a qualified expert; (2) the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur did not apply to Black’s case; and (3) Black’s prima facie case failed because there was evidence of abnormal use of the electrode pads and other reasonable secondary causes that could have contributed to Black’s injury. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the manufacturer. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision. View "Black v. DJO Global" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to remand a strict product liability claim against Mentor Worldwide to state court and the district court's subsequent decision to deny plaintiff's voluntary dismissal without prejudice and to dismiss her claim against Mentor Worldwide with prejudice. Plaintiff's claims relate to the silicone breast implants she received that were manufactured by Mentor Worldwide.The court concluded that plaintiff's claim that the district court erred in denying her motion to remand her strict product liability claim against Mentor Worldwide to state court was not properly before it. The court explained that, because the district court had diversity jurisdiction when it entered final judgment, there is nothing to remand. Because the court affirmed the dismissal with prejudice, the court need not determine whether remand would be required if it reversed the district court's final judgment on the merits and determined that remand had been improperly denied. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's motion to dismiss without prejudice. View "Graham v. Mentor Worldwide LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and his wife filed suit against Copeland and others, alleging that the companies exposed plaintiff to asbestos that caused him to develop mesothelioma. After the jury found Copeland liable, it apportioned 60 percent of the fault for plaintiff's harm, and awarded, among other damages, $25 million in noneconomic damages.The Court of Appeal held that the defendant has the burden at trial to show the percentage of fault attributable to other parties who may have contributed to causing the plaintiff's harm and that Copeland has not met its burden on appeal to show as a matter of law the evidence compelled an apportionment of fault more favorable to Copeland. The court also held that the trial court, in denying Copeland's motion for a new trial, did not err under Code of Civil Procedure sections 657 and 658 in declining to consider a spreadsheet created by Copeland's attorneys that presented a survey and comparative analysis of verdicts in California asbestos cases over a recent five-year period. Finally, the court concluded that substantial evidence supported the jury's award of noneconomic damages. View "Phipps v. Copeland Corporation LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2015, consumers owning Samsung top-load washing machines experienced issues with the door detaching mid-cycle. Litigation ensued across the country, with the cases consolidated into the multidistrict litigation underlying this appeal. Class counsel and the defendants negotiated a Settlement Agreement that provided class members five forms of relief. The district court, over objector-appellant John Morgan’s objection, granted final class certification and final approval to the settlement. Essential to Morgan’s objections was the Settlement Agreement’s inclusion of a “kicker” agreement and a “clear-sailing” agreement relative to the award of attorneys’ fees and costs. Morgan argued that under the “clear-sailing” agreement, Samsung agreed not to contest any request by class counsel for attorneys’ fees and costs of up to $6.55 million. Attempting to resolve his objections, Morgan and Samsung sought to negotiate a side agreement providing for the possible distribution to the class of a portion of the difference between the $6.55 million maximum permissible attorneys’ fees and costs, and the actual amount awarded by the district court. Ratification of this side agreement, however, never occurred, with Morgan walking away based on a purported fear that class counsel might sue him and his counsel if he and Samsung finalized the side agreement. On appeal, Morgan argued: (1) the district court made clear errors of fact regarding settlement negotiations and the side agreement; (2) the district court abused its discretion by granting final approval to the Settlement Agreement where it included both a “kicker” and a “clear-sailing” agreement; and (3) the district court abused its discretion by granting final class certification and allowing class counsel to continue in its role after class counsel placed its interests ahead of the class’s interests. The Tenth Circuit held a district court must apply heightened scrutiny before approving a settlement that includes both a “kicker” agreement and a “clear-sailing” agreement. But its review of the record gave the Court confidence the district court did just that. And although the district court made one clear error in its fact-finding process, the Tenth Circuit concluded the error was harmless to its ultimate decisions regarding final class certification, final approval of the Settlement Agreement, and its award of attorneys’ fees and costs. View "In re: Samsung Top-Load" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her husband filed suit against Ethicon and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, in the Southern District of Florida for failure to warn of the adverse health consequences of an Artisyn YMesh implant. After defendants successfully moved for summary judgment, plaintiff and her husband appealed, asking the court to create a "financial bias" exception to the learned intermediary doctrine.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed and concluded that it was Erie bound to follow the decisions of the Florida courts. Without any indication from Florida's appellate courts that they would create a "financial bias" exception to the learned intermediary doctrine insofar as it applies to physicians, the court held that the learned intermediary doctrine is available and that, under the facts of this case, it plainly entitles defendants to summary judgment on the failure-to-warn claim. In this case, the treating physician was both aware of the risks surrounding the mesh implant and stood by his decision to use it to treat plaintiff's prolapse. The court explained that, under Florida law, an inadequate warning could not be the proximate cause of plaintiff's injuries and, therefore, the learned intermediary doctrine bars a failure-to-warn claim. View "Salinero v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Amazon for injuries she suffered from an allegedly defective hoverboard she purchased from a third party seller named TurnUpUp on Amazon's website. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Amazon.The Fourth District recently addressed this issue as a matter of first impression in Bolger v. Amazon.com, LLC (2020) 53 Cal.App.5th 431 (Bolger), review denied November 18, 2020, holding that Amazon is an integral part of the overall producing and marketing enterprise that should bear the cost of injuries resulting from defective products.The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment and concluded that Bolger properly applied a well-established strict liability law to the facts of its case and was correctly decided. Based on the court's review of Amazon's third-party business model under the Business Solutions Agreement (BSA), the court is persuaded that Amazon's own business practices make it a direct link in the vertical chain of distribution under California's strict liability doctrine. Although the court concluded that Amazon is a link in the vertical chain of distribution, the court nevertheless recognizes that e-commerce may not neatly fit into a traditional sales structure. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the court concluded that there exists a triable issue of material fact as to liability under the stream of commerce approach and thus the trial court erroneously granted summary adjudication on the strict liability claim. The court rejected Amazon's contention that it was merely a service provider and thus not strictly liable for plaintiff's injuries. Furthermore, the court was not persuaded by Amazon's reliance on those decisions that restrict strict liability to sellers or manufacturers by applying out-of-state law. The court also concluded that policy considerations underlying the doctrine are furthered by imposing strict products liability in this case. Finally, summary adjudication was improperly granted as to the negligent products liability claim where Amazon provides no legal support for its argument that negligent products liability may only be imposed on manufacturers and sellers. View "Loomis v. Amazon.com LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Nathan Petersen Plaintiff injured himself while operating the Raymond Model 4200 stand-up counterbalance lift truck (“Raymond forklift”). The Raymond forklift had an open compartment. So it did not fully enclose the operator’s lower extremities. When Plaintiff lost control of the Raymond forklift, his left leg slid out of the open compartment and he crushed it against warehouse racking. Plaintiff argued the district court impermissibly closed the door on the strict products liability claim he brought against Defendant Raymond Corporation (“Raymond”) alleging it defectively manufactured a forklift. In support of his claim he sought to offer expert testimony that the forklift would be safer if it had a literal door on it. The district court found the expert’s testimony unreliable and excluded it. It then granted a related motion for summary judgment in Raymond’s favor. Plaintiff appealed. "The district court serves as a gatekeeper, shutting the door on unreliable expert testimony." Finding the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony, the Tenth Circuit affirmed judgment. View "Petersen v. Raymond Corporation" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's failure-to-warn claim asserted against the manufacturers of Taxotere, a chemotherapy medication. Plaintiff argues that Taxotere's manufacturers failed to provide an adequate warning of potentially permanent hair loss, which caused her injuries.The court concluded that, under Louisiana law, plaintiff cannot establish causation where, on this record, it is beyond any genuine dispute that a warning of the risk of permanent hair loss—as opposed to temporary hair loss—would not have affected the prescribing physician's decision to prescribe Taxotere. Therefore, plaintiff's claim fails as a matter of law. View "Phillips v. Sanofi U.S. Services, Inc." on Justia Law