Articles Posted in Products Liability

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Plaintiff filed the underlying action against BNSF after he was injured when the backrest of his locomotive seat broke, and alleged that the seat did not comply with the federal standards in the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA). BNSF settled a Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) claim with plaintiff. BNSF then filed suit against Seats to recover the costs of settlement. The Eighth Circuit reversed and held that the district court erred in determining that the LIA preempted BNSF's claims for products liability and breach of contract. Because the district court did not address defendant's other grounds for dismissal of the two claims, the court remanded for further proceedings on those alternative arguments. View "BNSF Railway Co. v. Seats, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jeffery Oppedahl and his family filed suit against Mobile Drill after Jeffery was injured in an accident involving a truck-mounted drill auger that left him a quadriplegic. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Mobile Drill on plaintiffs' negligent entrustment claim involving the auger and the related consortium claims. The court held that the refurbishment exception did not apply here and that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiffs' negligence and strict liability claims based on the running of the Iowa statute of repose. Even if the exception applied, plaintiffs' claim would still be barred where the existing case law in which courts have adopted a refurbishment exception to statutes of repose requires that the refurbishment be completed by the party being held accountable for the harm. In this case, it was IDOT, not Mobile Drill, that conducted the auger refurbishment. The court also held that the Iowa Supreme Court likely would not apply negligent entrustment against a product manufacturer when the claim relates to the sale of the product. Assuming that negligent entrustment applied, plaintiffs' claim failed where there was insufficient evidence to support a claim that Mobile Drill had knowledge that IDOT would use the auger in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical harm or that it was foreseeable to Mobile Drill that IDOT would use the auger in an unsafe way. View "Oppedahl v. Mobile Drill International Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing several products liability claims brought against Jones Stephens Corporation by Apex Oil. Applying Arkansas law to this dispute, the court held that the district court properly dismissed the strict liability claim where Apex did not present sufficient evidence that Jones Stephens's product was unreasonably dangerous; the district court properly dismissed the negligence and negligent failure to warn claims where Apex did not present evidence showing a causal connection between voids created by the manufacturing process and a structural failure of the parts; and the district court properly dismissed Apex's claim that Jones Stephens acted deceptively and unconscionably by advertising a "Leak proof seal" on the label of the plastic coupling nut where there was insufficient evidence that Apex's water damage was a result of the alleged deceptive trade practice. View "Apex Oil Company, Inc. v. Jones Stephens Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Products Liability

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Plaintiff filed suit against GM after was involved in an accident where he sustained a cervical-spinal cord injury that rendered him a quadriplegic. Plaintiff was in a GMC Savana van and, although he had his seatbelt on during the time of the crash, it did not prevent him from hitting his head on the roof of the van when the vehicle rolled over. The jury found GM negligent for failing to test the van and such negligence caused plaintiff's injuries. The district court then granted GM's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law (JML) and set aside the verdict. The trial court also conditionally granted a new trial solely as to damages. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment as to the motion for JML and held that there was legally sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find GM liable for negligent design, specifically for failing to conduct adequate testing. The court affirmed the conditional grant of a partial new trial on damages. View "Bavlsik v. General Motors" 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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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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Plaintiff filed a products liability action against defendants after his wife died of ovarian cancer. Plaintiff claimed that his wife's death was caused by her regular and prolonged use of talcum-based products. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it dismissed the complaint without prejudice; the district court did not abuse its discretion by reasoning that it would be more efficient to add this case to another multi-plaintiff case with the same issues because the case would likely be tried at an earlier date in state court, and the dismissal would not prejudice defendants because plaintiff's case would be consolidated with a previously scheduled trial; the district court specifically addressed plaintiff's proposed reason for dismissing the action and implicitly rejected defendants' argument that plaintiff was forum shopping; defendants did not cite any support for their contention that a motion to dismiss should be denied only because defendants would be deprived of a federal forum; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by considering the information presented in plaintiff's reply brief. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded to the district court to analyze whether costs and fees should be assessed and the amount, if any. . View "Blaes v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law

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Timothy Parks died from asphyxiation after the Gravely Promaster 152Z riding mower he was operating on his property fell off the edge of an embankment and rolled over on top of him. Plaintiff, Timothy's wife, filed suit alleging that the manufacturer of the 152Z, Ariens, was negligent for failing to equip the machine with a rollover protection system (ROPS). The district court granted summary judgment against plaintiff. The optional equipment doctrine holds that a manufacturer is, under certain circumstances, not negligent if a purchaser fails to buy optional safety equipment that would have prevented the accident. Although the Iowa Supreme Court has not yet considered the optional equipment doctrine, policy reasons and the popularity of the optional equipment doctrine lead the court to conclude that the Iowa court would adopt it. Therefore, in this case, the court concluded that Ariens fulfilled any duty it had to Timothy when it provided the ROPS as an optional feature for the 152Z mower and ensured that he had the information necessary to make an informed choice. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Parks v. Ariens Co." on Justia Law

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After plaintiffs' 23-month-old son, Jacob, drowned in a pond after climbing out of his crib and leaving their home in the middle of the night, plaintiffs filed a products liability and negligence suit against Dorel. Dorel denied that the doorknob cover it designed and manufactured was defective or unreasonably dangerous when used properly. The jury unanimously found Dorel was not liable for Jacob’s death and rendered a general verdict in Dorel’s favor. The court concluded that the district court did not err in admitting evidence that mother failed to secure the chain lock the night of Jacob’s death and father knew before that night that Jacob could defeat the doorknob cover. Even if the court accepted plaintiffs' alleged evidentiary errors for the purpose of argument, plaintiffs failed to establish how those errors prejudicially influenced the outcome of the trial. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Coterel v. Dorel Juvenile Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and his wife filed suit against numerous makers and distributors of microwave popcorn and butter flavoring. Plaintiff consumed microwave popcorn every day for approximately twenty years and alleged that defendants' products caused plaintiff's lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans. This appeal concerns one of the defendants, IFF. The court rejected plaintiff's claim that they are entitled to a new trial because the stricken testimony of one defendant's experts was prejudicial. In this case, plaintiff failed to object to the district court's curative instruction and they forfeited any error absent a showing of plain error - which they have not demonstrated. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff's motion for an evidentiary hearing; the district court did not plainly err by admitting the rest of defendant's expert's testimony or by giving a prompt and thorough curative instruction concerning the stricken testimony; the court rejected plaintiff's claim that another expert's improper testimony requires a new trial where plaintiff's disagreement with the why the expert ruled out diacetyl as a cause of plaintiff's illness is far from grounds for a new trial; and the court rejected plaintiff's claim that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's claim for judgment as a matter of law where issues related to the breach of implied warranty claim are uncontested, and it was unnecessary for the jury to proceed to the question of affirmative defenses because the jury found in IFF’s favor on the breach-of-implied-warranty claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Stults v. International Flavors" on Justia Law

Posted in: Products Liability