Product Liability Monitor

May 10, 2017
New Developments
Discovery Sanctions Sanctioned
By Alan Hoffman

On April 18, 2017 the United States Supreme Court did something unusual: it decided a discovery issue. In Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger (2017), it reversed a $2.7 million sanctions order for bad faith discovery misconduct. And in Sec. Nat’l Bank of Sioux City v. Day, 800 F.3d 936 (8th Cir., 2015), another recent high profile discovery case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed a sanctions order requiring a lawyer to write and produce a training film on deposition conduct as a punishment for “obstructive deposition practices.” Each of these decisions held that the sanctions exceeded the court’s inherent authority. [Continue Reading]

Tesla Autopilot Goes to Court
By Mark Pratzel

Tesla is facing its first U.S. product liability litigation challenging its Autopilot autonomous vehicle (AV) technology in a putative class action filed in Federal Court in San Jose, California. The three named plaintiffs are owners of Tesla Model S cars in Colorado, Florida, and New Jersey, who paid between $81,200 and $113,200 for their vehicles, including a $5,000 premium for Tesla’s “Enhanced Autopilot” 2.0 AV software. Each plaintiff claims that both the Autopilot “Standard Safety Features” and Enhanced Autopilot features were non-functional at delivery and remained so when suit was filed. The plaintiffs claim that Tesla sold 47,000 vehicles with “dangerously defective” software, at least half of which were supposed to have Enhanced Autopilot. They refer to it derisively as “vaporware,” which they define as “computer software that is advertised but still nonexistent.” [Continue Reading]

“Innocent Seller” Statutes: More Warnings, Less Protection
By Dan Jaffe

In Davis v. Dunham’s Athleisure Corp. (E.D. Mo., 2017), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri recently ruled that a firearms retailer was not entitled to the protection of Missouri’s “innocent seller” statute because it gave additional warnings and directions to the buyer beyond the manufacturer’s warnings. In Davis, the plaintiff bought a used rifle from the defendant retailer, Dunham’s Athleisure Corporation. The rifle was sold to Dunham’s by Century International Arms, Inc.  Plaintiff was injured when the rifle exploded. Dunham’s moved for dismissal under the Missouri “innocent seller” statute, §537.762.1, RSMo. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice

Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]

Product Liability Monitor Archive
April 2017

 

Product Liability Monitor

March 9, 2017
New Developments
Missouri Products Law: Are The Times A-Changin’?
By Joe Guffey

Missouri, the home of Mark Twain and Harry S Truman, has in recent years become one of the most deeply red states politically. Yet it has also acquired a reputation as of one of the most plaintiff friendly forums nationally, thanks to its substantive law and to juries in the City of St. Louis (dubbed the Number 1 “Judicial Hellhole” by the defense-oriented American Tort Reform Association for 2017).

Some of that may be about to change following the 2016 election of Republican former Navy Seal Eric Greitens as Governor and heavy Republican majorities in the Missouri House and Senate. Several bills are now pending in the Legislature which could bring about significant changes in Missouri product liability law and practice. [Continue Reading]

Immunity for Autonomous Vehicle Manufacturers?
By Mark Pratzel

As autonomous automobile vehicle (AV) technology develops new legal issues and challenges continue to appear. An issue that has led to much debate is the potential impact of lawsuits, which some contend could hamper the growth of AV technology. [Continue Reading]

What is an Adequate Warning? Criteria and Application
By Dan Jaffe

Many courts have stated criteria for determining the adequacy of product safety warnings. The Tennessee Supreme Court established a particularly useful 5-part test in Pittman v Upjohn Co., 890 S.W.2d 425, 429 (Tenn. 1994).  As recently re-stated by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice

Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]

Product Liability Monitor Archive
February 2017

Product Liability Monitor

December 13, 2016
New Developments
Auto Manufacturers Partner with Nauto to Improve Driverless Car Technology
By Shannon Peters

One of the main obstacles to the autonomous vehicle industry is “infrastructure,” but not in the sense typically associated with the term. Since autonomous vehicles come in all shapes, sizes, and powertrain types (gasoline, electric, and hybrid), and a wide range of degree of automation, the key infrastructure issue is not with the roads or the need for a worldwide network of guidance wires, rails, or charging stations, but ensuring the safe integration of autonomous vehicles into the world of human drivers.  Enter “Nauto.” [Continue Reading]

Confidentiality and the Public Interest
By Dan Jaffe

Public Justice, a public interest advocacy organization, recently posted over one million pages of Remington Arms Company internal documents on a publically available searchable online database. These documents concern the “Walker” trigger mechanism of the Remington Model 700 rifle, which has been the subject of more than 100 lawsuits, and is allegedly implicated in at least 24 deaths. [Continue Reading]

What is an Adequate Warning?
By Alan Hoffman

In Miasa Barron, et al. v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc., the Missouri Court of Appeals recently affirmed a verdict by a St. Louis jury awarding $15 million in compensatory damages and $23 million punitive damages for birth defects caused by the antiepileptic drug Depakote.  While there were other issues, the central liability question was whether Abbott adequately warned about the dangers of birth defects from using Depakote during pregnancy. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice
Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]
Product Liability Monitor Archive
November 2016

Gun controlThree of the four states to consider tightening their gun-control laws pass new initiatives on Tuesday. Gun-control was on the ballot in Washington, Maine, Nevada, and California.

In California, which already has some of the nation’s most stringent gun laws, voters approved a measure that will outlaw possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, require permits to buy ammunition, and extend California’s program that allows authorities to seize firearms from owners who bought guns legally but are no longer allowed to own them. The gun-control measure, pushed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, was approved by 62 percent of voters as of Wednesday morning. The full text of the measure can be found here. Continue Reading Gun-Control Ballot Initiatives

Product Liability Monitor

November 8, 2016
New Developments
Does Talc Cause Cancer? Scientific Evidence in the Courtroom
By Alan Hoffman

This year juries returned verdicts totaling nearly $200 million in three Missouri cases claiming that ovarian cancers is caused by using talcum powder products. By contrast, in September a New Jersey Superior Court excluded expert opinions offered to support such claims and granted defense motions for summary judgment in two pending cases. What scientific evidence is there concerning the causal connection, or lack of it, between talc use and ovarian cancer? [Continue Reading]

Autonomous Vehicles and Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics
By Eric B. Krauss

The Three Laws of Robotics are not laws in the traditional sense. They are neither rules passed by a community to regulate its members nor scientific facts proven by observation to govern natural phenomena, but rather a work of literature, devised by science fiction author Isaac Asimov. These “laws” reflect common-sense maxims for human relationships: that people should not harm others; that they should obey the standards of their communities; and that people should not engage in self-destructive behavior.  The difference between humans and computers is that humans have free will, while computer behavior is governed by software and programming devised by humans.[Continue Reading]

Court Dismisses the Sandy Hook Shooting Suit
By Dan Jaffe

On October 14, 2016 Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis dismissed the Sandy Hook shooting victims’ suit against Remington Arms Company and Bushmaster Firearms International. Judge Bellis held that the plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901, et seq. (PLCAA), and did not fall within any exception to immunity from liability set forth in the PLCAA. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice
Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]
Product Liability Monitor Archive
October 2016

Product Liability Monitor

August 9, 2016
New Developments
GM’s Ignition Switch Litigation Woes Continue
By Shannon Peters

“Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.” That must be what GM’s executives (and counsel) were thinking when the Second Circuit handed down its recent decision overturning portions of the 2015 Bankruptcy Court decision that could have immunized the “New GM” from “Old GM’s” liability related to the ignition switch recall of 2014. The decision also calls into question the 2009 sale order as a potential violation of the victims’ due process rights. [Continue Reading]

The Hazards of Lithium Ion Batteries
By Alan Hoffman

Lithium ion batteries have been in use for more than two decades, but safety concerns about them have recently attracted a wave of media and regulatory attention. Fires involving the lithium ion batteries of Boeing 787 Dreamliners in January, 2013 resulted in the temporary grounding of the entire 787 fleet. [Continue Reading]

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) in Actions Against Firearms Retailers
By Dan Jaffe

The U.S. District Court of Kansas recently denied a retailer’s motion to dismiss a suit alleging negligent entrustment and knowing violation of federal law in the sale of a firearm based on the pre-emption provisions of the PLCAA. [Continue Reading]

Editor of the Month
Shannon Peters Shannon Petersconcentrates his practice on the areas of product liability, intellectual property, and general commercial litigation as part of the firm’s Product Liability team. He advocates for clients of all sizes, from individuals to corporations, including some of the world’s leading manufacturers of specialty chemicals, petrochemicals, automobile parts, and industrial and consumer products, advising them on negotiations, discovery issues and litigation strategies.
Connect with us: Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn
Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice
Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]
Product Liability Monitor Archive
July 2016

Product Liability Monitor

June 7, 2016
New Developments
Driverless Cars and the Law
By Mark Pratzel

As driverless car technology evolves, questions continue to arise regarding its legal repercussions. Google, one of the leading forces behind autonomous cars, predicts that they will be available to the public by 2020.  Nissan and Tesla are also developing self-driven car technology.  And consumers support the new technology.  A recent Pew Research Center study indicated that nearly half of Americans would ride in a driverless car. [Continue Reading]

The Sandy Hook Firearm Litigation
By Joe Guffey

On the morning of December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School armed with a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle modeled on the military M-16, which he used to kill 26 persons and wound others. The shootings received extensive nationwide media coverage. [Continue Reading]

Federal Preemption of Aircraft Design Defect Claims
By Alan Hoffman

In Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp., 45 F.Supp.3d 431 (M.D. Pa. 2014), a wrongful death suit arising from the crash of a Cessna 172 claiming defects in the carburetor of its Lycoming engine and the related manuals and instructions, the plaintiff alleged that Lycoming violated various design requirements for the engine type certificate, and failed to report failures, malfunctions or defects as required by the Federal Air Regulations. [Continue Reading]

Editor of the Month
Alan Hoffman concentrates his practice in the Alan Hoffman areas of product liability, tort and business litigation with the firm’s St. Louis office. He handles a wide variety of product liability and personal injury litigation, including chemical and toxic tort; premises liability; firearms and ammunition; maritime; aviation; and rail cases. He has defended chemical manufacturing clients in exposure and product liability cases. Alan also has been an active pilot for more than 40 years and has a unique knowledge of aviation law.
Connect with us: Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn
Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice
Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]

Gun controlSuperior Court Judge Barbara Bellis recently ruled that Remington Arms Company, LLC could not use The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”) to prohibit the lawsuit filed against Remington as a result of the Sandy Hook shootings last December 2012.

Continue Reading Remington’s Troubles in the Sandy Hook Lawsuit Continue

Recently the Supreme Court of Missouri held that The Protection of Lawful Commerce and Arms Act (“PLCAA”) preempts a negligence claim but allows a correctly pled negligent entrustment action against a firearm seller. Gun controlThus, the PLCAA is not only a hot political topic being discussed by the Presidential Candidates, but also one that is being litigated within the legal system.

In Delana v. Ced Sales, Inc., d/b/a Odessa Gun & Pawn, et al., (2016 WL 1357209 (MO en banc April 6, 2016, not released for publication) defendant Odessa Gun & Pawn (“Odessa) sold a firearm, to a mentally ill child of the plaintiff, Janet Delana, which the child used to kill her own father.  Plaintiff telephoned Odessa and asked the store manager, Derrick Dady, to refrain from selling a gun to her daughter, who was severely mentally ill and should not have a gun.  Plaintiff also told Mr. Dady that her daughter had purchased a gun at Odessa the previous month and attempted to commit suicide, and said, “I’m begging you, I’m begging you as a mother, if she comes in, please don’t sell her a gun. Two days later, Mr. Dady sold her a gun and ammunition which she used within an hour to kill her father.

Continue Reading PLCAA Challenged in Politics and in the Courtroom

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potter_terryBecause federal law generally does not regulate firearms in the workplace, employers must know whether they operate in a state that has a workplace gun law and whether any specific requirements or exceptions apply to their business.

During the last several years, more than 20 states have enacted “Parking Lot” or “Guns in Trunks” laws. Terry Potter discusses the legal landscape of current gun legislation, how certain legislation affects employers and the workplace, and how to minimize any risks associated with that legislation.