Posts tagged as:

product liability

The story from Montana, on Bloomberg, updates our earlier report [link fixed now] including this link. Writes correspondent R.T.:

Big difference in liability theories here:

Plaintiff: Defective steering mechanism;

Defendant: The fireworks that were going off INSIDE THE CAR at the time of the crash.

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Last month federal district judge Claude Hilton dismissed an antitrust suit filed against rival makers of table saws by SawStop, a company that has patented a table saw with innovative safety features. “Hilton’s ruling, while a blow to SawStop, has no legal bearing on the company’s efforts to get the Consumer Product Safety Commission to require the use of their technology on most table saws sold in the U.S.” Trial lawyers at Boies Schiller and elsewhere have also filed numerous product liability suits against makers of conventional saws; many saw users prefer to go on buying conventional saws, which are much less expensive, in preference to using the SawStop system [David Frane, Tools of the Trade, background; earlier]

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New Yorker cartoon that might work framed in a lawyer’s office.

Liability roundup

by Walter Olson on April 25, 2014

  • By convention the business/defense side isn’t fond of jury trial while plaintiff’s side sings its praises, but Louisiana fight might turn that image on its head [Hayride, sequel at TortsProf (measure fails)]
  • Generous tort law, modern industrial economy, doing away with principle of limited liability: pick (at most) two of three [Megan McArdle]
  • Fallacies about Stella Liebeck McDonald’s hot coffee case go on and on, which means correctives need to keep coming too [Jim Dedman, DRI]
  • Interaction of products liability with workplace injury often provides multiple bites at compensation apple, overdue for reform [Michael Krauss]
  • Ford Motor is among most recent seeking to pull back the curtain on asbestos bankruptcy shenanigans [Daniel Fisher; related, Washington Examiner] “Page after page he sits on the straw man’s chest, punching him in the face” [David Oliver on expert affidavit in asbestos case]
  • Kansas moves to raise med-mal caps as directed by state supreme court, rebuffs business requests for collateral source rule reform [Kansas Medical Society]
  • Let’s hope so: “More stringent pleading for class actions?” [Matthew J.B. Lawrence via Andrew Trask, Class Strategist]

Olympia, Wash.: “A community college says it’s the pride of their automotive technology program: a rare Dodge Viper donated to their school worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.” It’s believed to be the fourth one off the assembly line. But now Chrysler has “ordered the destruction of their entire educational Viper fleet.” It seems that while the prototypes were never meant to be driven on public roads, “two of them somehow got out and into accidents, costing Chrysler’s parent company millions of dollars.” Things might be different if our law respected a sale or other contractual agreement between Chrysler and the school as reason to release the manufacturer from a suit filed by an injured third party. But it doesn’t. Chrysler’s deadline for ordering the cars crushed has now passed; no word at present as to whether any of the cars have been reprieved or otherwise survived. [KING, AutoWeek, Tacoma News Tribune, Motor Trend]

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February 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 11, 2014

Product liability roundup

by Walter Olson on January 21, 2014

  • “Furniture company founder files federal chair-collapse suit against rival manufacturer” [ABA Journal]
  • Wrangling over Pennsylvania tobacco settlement aftermath “a never-ending buffet for attorneys” [Allentown Morning Call] Florida $27 million smoking award upheld [Daily Business Review]
  • Autonomous cars and tort liability [Kyle Colonna, Case Western RJLTI/SSRN]
  • Asbestos: Death of single fiber theory [Sean Wajert, Pa.] Radiologist Herron says he did nothing wrong [W.V. Record]
    Peculiar tale of Russian asbestos-mining town [Foreign Policy] More: Lester Brickman on smokers’ asbestos cases [Chamber-backed LNL]
  • From the defense side, Beck chooses favorite and least-favorite drug and medical-device decisions of 2013;
  • One can always hope: Will 3-D printing end product liability litigation as we know it? [Nora Freeman Engstrom, SSRN] “Philadelphia Becomes First City To Ban 3D-Printed Gun Manufacturing” [Zenon Evans] Once again on the vacuous but oft-repeated “NRA is a front for gunmakers” line [Tuccille]

The capabilities of onboard GPS systems keep getting more impressive. And the product liability implications might nudge Detroit into using the information in ways unwelcome to customers, for fear of being blamed otherwise for crashes they might have prevented. [Volokh]

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Liability and torts roundup

by Walter Olson on October 24, 2013

  • Struggling with a new-design gas can? There’s a reason for that [Scott Reeder, earlier on Blitz bankruptcy]
  • NYT video retrospective on Stella Liebeck-McDonald’s (hot coffee spill) case is getting a lot of attention;
  • Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has made itself the biggest name in asbestos defense, and some trial lawyers hope to make hay with that [Scripps/WPTV]
  • California trial lawyers chief: yes, we’re going to partner up more with elected officials as in lead paint case [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine]
  • It’s differences in procedure, more than in substantive law, that mostly explain why the U.S. has hundreds of times as many product liability suits as Japan [J. Mark Ramseyer via Point of Law]
  • “Injured by big government? Call: 717-671-1901 [promotion for Commonwealth Foundation, a Pennsylvania free-market-oriented outfit]
  • How litigation finance might remake the lawsuit landscape [Nora Freeman Engstrom via TortsProf]

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After pleading guilty to driving under the influence, two New Jersey men “subsequently brought a product liability action against the company that made the breath-testing device used to establish their BACs as being in excess of .08%.” Asking for class action status on behalf of all New Jersey drivers convicted after blowing into the device, the “plaintiffs claimed that ‘the Alcotest 7110 contains latent design defects in that it is a piece of respiratory equipment that is not standardized at frequent intervals and there is no provision for calibration of its pulmonary reporting apparatus.'” A court ruled the complaint inadequate on the pleadings, though it has given them a chance to replead. [Steve McConnell, Drug and Device Law]

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  • “The Emperor’s Clothes: Should jury bias against corporations receive legal recognition?” [Michael Krauss on Alabama legal malpractice case]
  • Which did more to compromise gas can usability, regulation or liability? [Coyote, Jeffrey Tucker a year ago at LFB, earlier here, etc.]
  • Wow: Litigation Lobby stalwart Joan Claybrook signs her name to letter claiming there’s “no evidence” of “significant fraud” in asbestos litigation [WSJ letter] “Peter Angelos’s Asbestos Book” [WSJ] “House panel passes asbestos trusts transparency bill” [Law360, Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine]
  • “Indiana’s ‘Government Compliance’ Presumption Against Defect and Negligence” [John Sullivan, D&DL]
  • CPSC Commissioner Nancy Nord on the commission’s certificates of compliance;
  • A way to head off the product-suit technique for bypassing workers’-comp limits? “Pennsylvania Supreme Court Allows Waivers for Future Negligence by Third Parties” [Krauss, Point of Law]
  • California cities’ lead-paint-as-nuisance suit may be headed for trial [Max Taves, Recorder]

“Four Pittsburgh firefighters are suing seven companies that manufacture fire trucks or sirens, claiming they’ve lost hearing due to the blaring sirens. … They contend the manufacturers should have insulated the sirens to protect their hearing and/or provided warnings about their use.” [Claims Journal]

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A new empirical study from Joanna Shepherd (Emory) in the Vanderbilt Law Review looks at the question (via Chris Robinette/TortsProf). Among the conclusions:

My empirical results indicate that several reforms that restrict the scope of products liability have a significant impact on economic activity. Statutes of repose that limit the time period for which manufacturers are liable for product defects, comparative negligence reforms that reduce damage awards when plaintiffs engage in negligent activity, and reforms that eliminate strict liability for nonmanufacturer product sellers are all associated with statistically significant increases in economic activity. Specifically, my results suggest that these reforms increase the number of businesses, employment, and production in the industries that bear most of the products liability claims: the manufacturing, retail, distribution, wholesale, and insurance industries.

In contrast, other reforms have a weak effect on economic activity. My results suggest that caps on noneconomic damages and reforms to the traditional collateral source rule are only weakly associated with increases in economic activity. Meanwhile, caps on punitive damages and reforms eliminating joint and several liability are weakly associated with decreases in certain measures of economic activity.

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Megan McArdle, in her annual holiday guide to kitchen gadget buying:

If you don’t want quite this much capacity — if you’re cooking for one or two, and hate leftovers — then I recommend getting an older (pre-1990) crockpot off of eBay. In recent years, food safety regulations and fear of liability has caused manufacturers to raise the heat on their slow cookers, which means the food cooks faster. I entertain enough that I reluctantly gave up lower heat for larger capacity (old crockpots tend to come in 2-3 quart sizes, rather than the 5-6 quarts that are standard now.) But only an older crockpot will give you really low and slow cooking.

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Helmet-manufacturer Riddell may have beaten the rap concerning a 2006 injury to a ninth-grader who suffered a stroke at football practice, but many other lawsuits against helmet manufacturers continue to loom on the horizon. [Insurance Journal]

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Product liability roundup

by Walter Olson on October 17, 2012

  • “Judge in Asbestos Litigation Says Navy Ships Aren’t Products” [Legal Intelligencer]
  • NYT goes in search of the trial lawyers’ case on the Blitz gas can bankruptcy [earlier here, here]
  • Gun control lobby hails as “groundbreaking” NY appellate court allowing suit against gun manufacturer [WSJ Law Blog, NYLJ]
  • “Mechanical Bull Tosses Rider, Prevails in Court” [Abnormal Use]
  • Well-known expert witness pops up in consumer popcorn injury case [Drug and Device Law] 2004 Missouri workplace exposure case: “‘Popcorn Lung’ Couple Gets $20M Award, Files for Bankruptcy” [ABC News]
  • “Bumbo Baby Seat Recalled Because It Is Only 99.999475% Safe” [Skenazy, Agitator]
  • “Summary Judgment For Crocs in Massachusetts Escalator Injury Case” [Abnormal Use]

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Product liability roundup

by Walter Olson on October 1, 2012

  • “Oklahoma Court Tosses Jury Verdict Over ‘Defective’ Louisville Slugger” [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, Abnormal Use] “In contrast, a New Jersey case against the same defendant resulted in a multi-million-dollar settlement divorced from any showing of culpability.” [PoL]
  • An expert witness wore two hats [Chamber-backed Madison County Record]
  • 5-4 Washington Supreme Court decision in asbestos case bodes ill for makers of safety devices [Pacific Legal Foundation]
  • “Defective design and the Costa Concordia” [Rob Green, Abnormal Use; Rick Spilman, The Old Salt]
  • Calif. appeals court says man shot by 3 year old son can sue Glock [SFGate]
  • “Evidence of Drug Use May Be Relevant in Product Liability Litigation” [Farr, Abnormal Use]
  • “What used to be in chemistry sets that are not in there anymore are actual chemicals” [BBC, earlier here, here]

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“Unfortunately for Mr. Korte, as he fired the crossbow, he stuck his thumb in the path of the bow string, which is a major no-no. … Mr. Korte has, of course, filed a lawsuit against Hunter’s Manufacturing Company (d/b/a TenPoint) and Cabela’s Retail.” [Madison County Record via Abnormal Use]

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