Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Products Liability
Hangey, et al. v. Husqvarna, et al.
In this case, a Pennsylvania trial court transferred venue based on a determination the corporate defendant did not regularly conduct business in Philadelphia County because only 0.005% of the company’s total national revenue was derived from that county. On appeal, the Superior Court reversed, holding the trial court abused its discretion in transferring venue. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted discretionary review to evaluate the Superior Court’s determination, and affirmed: venue was proper in Philadelphia County. View "Hangey, et al. v. Husqvarna, et al." on Justia Law
Dickinson v. Kim
The Supreme Court adopted conspiracy jurisdiction in this case in which three law firms petitioned the Court to order a judge to dismiss them from the underlying lawsuit, holding that the law firms demonstrated a "clear and indisputable right to the relief requested and a lack of other means to redress adequately the alleged wrong or to obtain he requested action."Plaintiffs sued certain cigarette manufacturers and retailers, bringing product liability, fraud, and conspiracy claims. Plaintiff also sued three law firms that counseled the tobacco companies, alleging two counts of conspiracy. The law firms each filed motions to dismiss under Haw. R. Civ. P. (HRCP) Rule 12(b)(2), claiming that Hawai'i courts lacked general and specific jurisdiction over them. The circuit court denied the motions to dismiss without making minimum contacts findings or undertaking any due process analysis. The law firms subsequently petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition and, alternatively, for a writ of mandamus ordering dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. The Court adopted conspiracy jurisdiction and granted the law firms' writ of prohibition, holding that the circuit court clearly exercised jurisdiction beyond its authority, and there were no other means for the law firms to adequately address the alleged wrong or to obtain dismissal. View "Dickinson v. Kim" on Justia Law
RSD Leasing, Inc. v. Navistar Int’l Corp.
Plaintiff RSD Leasing Inc., a company that leases and, eventually, resells trucks to other commercial entities, appealed from a district court decision, granting in relevant part summary judgment to Defendants Navistar International Corp. and Navistar, Inc., the manufacturer of several allegedly substandard trucks in RSD’s fleet. The sole question on appeal is whether, for purposes of its purchase of those trucks, RSD qualifies as a “consumer” under the Vermont Consumer Protection Act and therefore is eligible to invoke the Act’s protections. In the absence of any on-point Vermont caselaw signaling whether the statute extends “consumer” protections to a business that purchases a good intending exclusively to lease that good to a third party and then to resell it at the end of the lease term, the district court relied in substantial part on two brief passages from the Act’s legislative history, holding that RSD was not acting as a “consumer” when it purchased the trucks at issue. The Second Circuit wrote that it is unable to confidently predict how the Vermont Supreme Court would decide the matter. Therefore, the court certified to the Vermont Supreme Court the following question: Does a business that purchases goods intending first to lease those goods to end users and then to resell them at the termination of the lease term qualify as a ‘consumer’ under the VCPA? View "RSD Leasing, Inc. v. Navistar Int'l Corp." on Justia Law
Baker v. Croda Inc.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of law to the Delaware Supreme Court. The question arose in connection with a toxic tort class action in the federal district court for the District of Delaware that was appealed to the Third Circuit. Delaware resident Catherine Baker filed suit individually and on behalf of fellow residents who lived near Atlas Point, a chemical plant that regularly used and emitted ethylene oxide, a dangerous chemical. The question asked whether an increased risk of illness, without present manifestation of a physical harm, was a cognizable injury under Delaware law. Put another way: did an increased risk of harm only constitute a cognizable injury once it manifested in a physical disease? To this, the Supreme Court answered: an increased risk of illness without present manifestation of a physical harm is not a cognizable injury under Delaware law. View "Baker v. Croda Inc." on Justia Law
IN RE: LAW OFFICES OF BEN C. MARTIN V. BABBITT & JOHNSON PA, ET AL
Appellants, the Law Offices of Ben C. Martin and the law firm Martin Baughman, PLLC (collectively, BCM), argued that the district court in this multidistrict litigation (MDL), In re Bard IVC Filters Products Liability Litigation, lacked authority to order common benefit fund assessments against the recoveries of claimants who were not involved in cases that were part of the MDL—that is, those with claims that were not filed in any court, or were filed in state court, or were filed in federal court after the MDL closed (collectively, non-MDL cases). After settling their clients’ claims against C.R. Bard, Inc. and Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc. (collectively, Bard), BCM moved to exempt the recoveries of their clients in non-MDL cases from common benefit fund assessments. The district court denied the motion. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order. The panel held that the district court’s order requiring common benefit fund assessments in the non-MDL cases was within the scope of the district court’s authority. A district court properly exercises its authority to order common benefit fund holdback assessments from claimants’ recoveries in non-MDL cases when (1) counsel for claimants voluntarily consents to the district court’s authority by signing, or otherwise entering into, a participation agreement requiring contributions in exchange for access to common benefit work product, (2) that participation agreement is incorporated into a court order, and (3) as a result of entering the participation agreement, counsel receives access to common benefit work product. The panel affirmed the district court’s order denying claimants’ motion to exempt non-MDL cases from common benefit fund assessments. View "IN RE: LAW OFFICES OF BEN C. MARTIN V. BABBITT & JOHNSON PA, ET AL" on Justia Law
Kielar v. Super. Ct.
Mark Kielar challenged a superior court’s decision to grant Hyundai Motor America’s (Hyundai) motion to compel arbitration of his causes of action for violation of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and fraudulent inducement arising from alleged mechanical defects in the condition of his 2012 Hyundai Tucson. The superior court’s ruling followed Court of Appeal's earlier decision in Felisilda v. FCA US LLC, 53 Cal.App.5th 486 (2020) and concluded Hyundai, a nonsignatory manufacturer, could enforce the arbitration provision in the sales contract between Kielar and his local car dealership under the doctrine of equitable estoppel. The Court of Appeal joined recent decisions that have disagreed with Felisilda and concluded the court erred in ordering arbitration. Therefore, it issued a preemptory writ of mandate compelling the superior court to vacate its June 16, 2022 order and enter a new order denying Hyundai’s motion. View "Kielar v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law
State ex rel. Monsanto Co. v. Honorable Mullen
The Supreme Court made permanent a preliminary writ it issued granting Monsanto Company's petition for a writ of prohibition or mandamus requiring the St. Louis circuit court to transfer venue of five of the six plaintiffs' claims, holding that Missouri law compelled this result.Plaintiffs brought this action claiming that they were injured as a result of exposure to a herbicide manufactured by Monsanto Company and seeking monetary damages. Monsanto filed a motion to transfer venue as to five of the six plaintiffs in this case to St. Louis County but failed to file a motion to transfer in the six plaintiff's case The circuit court subsequently consolidated Plaintiffs' individual claims. Monsanto filed a motion to reconsider, arguing that venue was inappropriate in St. Louis Valley. The circuit court overruled the motion, after which Monsanto sought relief by way of mandamus or prohibition. The Supreme Court granted relief, holding that Mo. Rev. Stat. 508.010.5(1) mandated that venue shall be where Monsanto's registered agent was located as of filing - St. Louis County. View "State ex rel. Monsanto Co. v. Honorable Mullen" on Justia Law
ELENA NACARINO, ET AL V. KASHI COMPANY
Two putative class actions are at issue in these appeals: Nacarino v. Kashi Co., No. 22-15377, and Brown v. Kellogg Co., No. 22-15658. The complaints were filed in the Northern District of California, and they asserted materially identical state-law consumer protection claims for unfair business practices, unjust enrichment, and fraud. Both complaints alleged that the front labels on several of Defendants’ products are “false and misleading” under state and federal law. At issue is whether food product labels that advertise the amount of protein in the products are false or misleading. The Ninth Circuit affirmed on different grounds the district court’s dismissal of the two complaints. The panel rejected Plaintiffs’ arguments that the protein claims on Defendants’ labels were false because the nitrogen method for calculating protein content overstated the actual amount of protein the products contained. The panel held that FDA regulations specifically allow manufacturers to measure protein quantity using the nitrogen method. The panel rejected Plaintiffs’ arguments that the protein claims on Defendants’ labels were misleading because the “amount of digestible or usable protein the Products actually deliver to the human body is even lower” than the actual amount of protein the products contain. The panel held that Defendants’ protein claims could be misleading under FDA regulations if they did not accurately state the quantity of protein or if the products did not display the quality-adjusted percent daily value in the Nutritional Facts Panel. However, Plaintiffs’ complaints did not allege that the challenged protein claims were misleading within the meaning of the federal regulations. View "ELENA NACARINO, ET AL V. KASHI COMPANY" on Justia Law
Angela Cantrell v. Coloplast Corp.
Coloplast Corporation and Coloplast Manufacturing US, LLC (collectively, Coloplast) manufacture and market Restorelle L, a surgical mesh device. Plaintiff sued Coloplast for injuries allegedly caused by the implantation of Restorelle L mesh. After excluding portions of Plaintiff’s expert opinions and testimony, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Coloplast. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred in excluding her expert’s opinion on specific causation and in granting summary judgment on her negligent design claim. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that the expert’s supplemental declaration was untimely because it was submitted after the deadlines for disclosure of expert reports and completion of all discovery. The court reasoned that Rule 26(e)(2) requires that an expert’s supplement “be disclosed by the time the party’s pretrial disclosures under Rule 26(a)(3) are due.” Rule 26(a)(3)(B), in turn, states that “Unless the court orders otherwise, these disclosures must be made at least 30 days before trial.” Plaintiff maintains that she, therefore, had until thirty days before trial to disclose the expert’s supplemental declaration. However, the court explained that she ignored the caveat that Rule 26’s default timing provision applies only if the court does not order otherwise. Here, the court set deadlines in its scheduling order, those deadlines superseded the default rules, and Plaintiff failed to meet those deadlines. Further, the court wrote that the district court also did not abuse its discretion when it decided to exclude the expert’s report and declaration without considering lesser sanctions. View "Angela Cantrell v. Coloplast Corp." on Justia Law
Hrymoc v. Ethicon, Inc.
In this products liability matter involving “pelvic mesh” medical devices, the New Jersey Supreme Court considered whether defendant C.R. Bard, Inc., was denied a fair trial by the trial court’s determination that defendant could not present 510(k) clearance evidence -- evidence that, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 360c, the devices were allowed to be marketed without premarket clinical trials -- to counter the product liability claims brought by plaintiffs Mary and Thomas Walsh McGinnis. North Carolina surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Barbee implanted Bard’s “Align TO” and “Avaulta Solo” pelvic mesh devices. In the months following surgery, McGinnis had to undergo numerous invasive surgeries to remove the mesh and repair internal damage, with limited success. In 2011, plaintiffs filed suit against defendant Bard under North Carolina law. Counsel agreed that the substantive issues would be tried under the law of North Carolina but that the issue of damages would be tried under New Jersey law. Plaintiffs moved in limine to bar defendant from presenting any evidence of the devices’ 510(k) clearance to the jury. The trial court found the 510(k) evidence inadmissible. The Appellate Division reversed, holding that the exclusion of any 510(k) evidence deprived defendant of a fair trial on the issue of negligence. The Supreme Court agreed that 510(k) evidence was generally inadmissible because the 510(k) clearance process solely determines substantial equivalency, and not safety and efficacy. However, in a products liability claim premised on the reasonableness of a manufacturer’s conduct in not performing clinical trials or studies, the Court held evidence of 510(k) clearance had significant probative value under N.J.R.E. 401 that was not substantially outweighed by the risk of prejudice and potential juror confusion under N.J.R.E. 403. Therefore, under the specific facts and circumstances of this case, the Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division and remanded for a new trial. The Court disagreed with the Appellate Division’s decision regarding the scope and admissibility of 510(k) evidence and a Rule 104 hearing. To this, the Supreme Court believed the scope and admissibility of 510(k) evidence should be resolved at the hearing on a motion in limine, which was how the issue was and, presumably, would be raised. View "Hrymoc v. Ethicon, Inc." on Justia Law