Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Products Liability
by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in plaintiffs' case, which is part of the Bair Hugger multidistrict litigation (MDL). The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding (1) evidence of 3M's knowledge of the risks and utility of the Bair Hugger and (2) evidence of reasonable alternative designs to the Bair Hugger besides the TableGard. Furthermore, even assuming the risk-utility and reasonable-alternative design evidence was erroneously excluded, plaintiffs failed to show that they suffered prejudice from the exclusion of the evidence. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by allowing 3M's expert to testify about operating-room airflow. Even if the admission of the testimony was erroneous, there was no basis to reverse the jury's verdict on this ground. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to 3M on plaintiffs' failure-to-warn claim asserted under both negligence and strict-liability theories. The court explained that, even if the district court erred, the error was harmless. View "Gareis v. 3M Company" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs, 14 purchasers of off-road vehicles, filed a putative class action against Polaris alleging that a design defect caused the vehicles, all of which contain "ProStar" engines, to produce excessive heat. Plaintiffs claim that the heat degrades vehicle parts, reduces service life, and creates a risk of catastrophic fires. 7 of the 14 plaintiffs experienced fires which destroyed their vehicles.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Polaris's motion to dismiss the claims of the "no-fire" purchasers, because they failed to allege an injury in fact as required to establish an Article III case or controversy. The court concluded that the district court correctly applied circuit precedent in determining that the no-fire purchasers failed to allege an injury sufficient to confer standing. View "Forrest v. Polaris Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

by
In December 2015, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation created and centralized the In re Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Devices Products Liability Litigation (MDL) in the District of Minnesota for coordinated pretrial proceedings. Plaintiffs in the MDL brought claims against 3M alleging that they contracted periprosthetic joint infections (PJIs) due to the use of 3M's Bair Hugger, a convective (or forced-air ) patient-warming device, during their orthopedic-implant surgeries. The MDL court excluded plaintiffs' general-causation medical experts as well as one of their engineering experts, and it then granted 3M summary judgment as to all of plaintiffs' claims, subsequently entering an MDL-wide final judgment.The Eighth Circuit reversed in full the exclusion of plaintiffs' general-causation medical experts and reversed in part the exclusion of their engineering expert; reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of 3M; affirmed the discovery order that plaintiffs challenged; affirmed the MDL court's decision to seal the filings plaintiffs seek to have unsealed; and denied plaintiffs' motion to unseal those same filings on the court's own docket. View "Amador v. 3M Company" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff, whose case is part of the Bair Hugger multidistrict litigation (MDL) against 3M, appeals the district court's orders deciding that Ohio substantive law applies in her case and denying her motion for leave to amend her complaint. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that, after consideration of the eleven factors that may be considered in an Ohio choice-of-law analysis, the district court did not err in deciding that Ohio substantive law governed this case. In this case, plaintiff has not rebutted the presumption that the substantive law of Ohio, the state where she was injured, governs this products liability case. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the complaint where plaintiff failed to comply with local rules. View "Axline v. 3M Company" on Justia Law

by
After plaintiff suffered injuries to his right hand while using a RotoZip Model RZ20 hand-held spiral saw, he filed suit against Bosch, the manufacturer, and Lowe's, the retailer, alleging strict liability and negligence products liability theories. Plaintiff alleged that he was injured when the saw’s auxiliary handle spontaneously detached from the saw's body.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' joint motion to bar the opinions of plaintiff's expert regarding the saw's alleged design defects and the saw's failure to have an interlocking device safety measure. The court concluded that the expert's proposed opinion lacked relevance as it did not fit the facts of this case. The court explained that plaintiff did not meaningfully argue in his brief his claim that the saw was defective for not having an interlocking safety measure and thus waived his claim. Furthermore, even if the issue was not waived, the district court did not err in concluding the expert's testimony on alternative-design options was not reliable and should not be admitted.The court also affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' joint motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims of strict products liability, negligent design, negligent failure to warn, and negligent supply of a dangerous instrumentality. In this case, the district court concluded that the claims involved such complex or technical information that they required expert testimony. Therefore, the exclusion of plaintiff's expert was fatal to his claims. View "McMahon v. Robert Bosch Tool Corp." on Justia Law

by
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

by
After plaintiff sustained injuries in an on-the-job accident, he filed suit against his former employer, Key Energy, and the company that manufactured the equipment that caused his injuries, Hydra-Walk, alleging products liability and negligence claims. Plaintiff suffered injuries when the Hydra-Walk system he was operating became unstable and overturned, crushing him.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, concluding that Hydra-Walk is not a third-party tortfeasor for purposes of determining whether plaintiff may pursue a remedy. The court explained that plaintiff's arguments to the contrary ignored that a merger occurred between Key Energy and Hydra-Walk, with Key Energy emerging as the only surviving entity and Hydra-Walk, ceasing to exist. Furthermore, the North Dakota Supreme Court has never allowed an employee to successfully recover against an employer where the employee was injured by equipment manufactured by another company prior to the company's merger with the employer and the injury occurred post-merger. Without further indication that the North Dakota Supreme Court would be receptive to the application of the exception, the court was unwilling to apply it, for the first time, to plaintiff's claims. Finally, the court concluded that the North Dakota Supreme Court would not apply the dual capacity doctrine to the exclusive remedy rule to plaintiff's claims. View "Scott v. Key Energy Services, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff file a products liability action against Teva, the manufacturer of intrauterine devices, after she suffered complications from the implantation of an intrauterine device that broke and embedded inside her uterus.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the manufacturer, holding that all Teva was required to do under Nebraska law was warn medical professionals like plaintiff's physician about the device's potential risks. The court explained that the Nebraska Supreme Court has indicated that it would follow the "overwhelming majority rule" and join other states in rejecting the prescription-contraceptives exception to the learned-intermediary doctrine. View "Ideus v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's admission of evidence over plaintiffs' objection and denial of plaintiffs' motion for a new trial in a products liability action brought against Crown, a forklift manufacturer. The court applied Huff v. Heckendorn Manufacturing Co., 991 F.2d 464, 467 (8th Cir. 1993), and concluded that plaintiffs waived their challenge to the admission of the video simulations where they preemptively introduced the simulations into evidence. Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiffs' motion for a new trial. View "Reinard v. Crown Equipment Corporation" on Justia Law

by
After plaintiff was injured after being thrown from his ATV when its right wheel came off, he filed suit against DTG, the manufacturer of the wheel, seeking redress for his injuries. The complaint alleged causes of action for product liability, negligence, breach of implied warranty, failure to warn, and post-sale failure to warn. The first three claims merge by operation of law under Minnesota's single product-liability theory. Plaintiff has abandoned his post-sale failure-to-warn claim by not including any argument on the issue in his brief.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of DTG on the product-liability claim where plaintiff's expert specifically disclaims an opinion as to whether the subject wheel had a design defect that made it unreasonably dangerous. The court also affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of DTG on the failure-to-warn claim where the summary judgment record is completely devoid of evidence that an inadequate warning caused plaintiff's injuries. View "Markel v. Douglas Technologies Group, Inc." on Justia Law