Legislative & Judicial Updates

Toxic Tort Monitor

January 17, 2018
New Developments
A Review of 2017 Personal Jurisdiction Decisions
By Taylor Concannon

In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court in cases such as BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California continued the trend that began in Goodyear and Daimler and reaffirmed its limits on personal jurisdiction for corporate defendants. [Continue Reading]

Summary of 2017 Talc Verdicts
By Natalie Holden

After several multi-million dollar verdicts in talc and ovarian cancer trials in 2016, 2017 proved to be a more interesting year, with some plaintiff verdicts and some defense verdicts. There are currently thousands of talc related claims pending across the United States. The defendants in this litigation maintain that the science does not support the claims that personal care powder products cause ovarian cancer. [Continue Reading]

Missouri Court of Appeals Reverses Defense Verdict Finding Trial Court’s Allowance of Four Defense Experts as Cumulative and an Abuse of Discretion
By Natalie Holden and Jen Dlugosz

In Shallow v. Follwell, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District, Division Four, held that the trial court abused its discretion by permitting the “unfairly cumulative and prejudicial repetition of expert opinions from [defense] expert witnesses.” [Continue Reading]

Texas Court of Appeals Denies Rehearing in Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company v. Rogers
By Joe Ellis, Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden

In Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company v. Rogers, the Dallas Court of Appeals issued an important decision regarding the calculation of exemplary damages awarded under the Texas statute governing the exemplary damages cap to calculate a judgment amount in the case of an employer defendant found grossly negligent where the deceased employee claimed exposure to asbestos. [Continue Reading]

Connect with us: Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn
Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Toxic Tort Litigation Practice

Companies face increasingly well‐coordinated attacks in jurisdictions across the country. These assaults are becoming more complex and costly as plaintiffs’ counsel pursue novel theories and claims to keep asbestos litigation thriving. Husch Blackwell’s team has experience in numerous jurisdictions throughout 37 states. Our attorneys can help you navigate the intricate web of plaintiffs’ firms, changing laws, evolving science and anti-defendant courts. [More information]

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
Read our Toxic Tort Monitor Archive

patent law gavelOn January 10, 2018, the Federal Circuit added Finjan, Inc. v. Blue Coat Sys., Inc., No. 2016-2520 (Fed. Cir.), to its Enfish jurisprudence and upheld the subject matter eligibility of a software patent directed to virus-scanning downloadable app code for known and suspected malware. As construed, the invention claims novel behavioral-based analysis of source code to identify; detection of potentially dangerous files results in creation of a new file attached to the app code which is then evaluated by the destination computer to determine whether to allow the app to be downloaded. Continue Reading Federal Circuit “Blue Coat” Decision: Virus-Scanning Software Survives Alice Attack Applying “Enfish”

Product Liability Monitor

December 4, 2017
New Developments
Missouri Adopts Daubert: What It Means in Product Liability Cases
By Theresa Mullineaux

In March 2017, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed House Bill 153, which amended Mo. Rev. Stat. § 490.065, and effectively adopted Daubert standards for Missouri cases, effective in August 2017. As a result, Missouri now follows similar standards to those applied in Federal courts and the majority of other state courts for expert evidence.[1] HB 153 establishes a four factor standard: [Continue Reading]

Defending Depositions
By Alan Hoffman

A previous post discussed preparing witnesses for their depositions. After a witness has been prepared for deposition it is the lawyer’s job to protect the witness, the client, and the record—a task that has many challenges, perils and pitfalls, but particularly so in products cases which often involve complicated design, risk-benefit, “safety” and warnings issues. Here are some suggestions for product lawyers and witnesses. [Continue Reading]

The Ninth Circuit versus CAFA’s Removal Provisions in Products Liability Litigation
By Soham Desai

The 2005 Class Action Fairness Act created federal jurisdiction based on minimum diversity for certain class and mass actions in an effort to preclude artfully maneuvering to defeat diversity jurisdiction. Actions with at least 100 plaintiffs, minimal diversity between the parties, and an amount in controversy exceeding $5 million dollars may be removed to federal court. In response, plaintiffs’ attorneys began subdividing their cases into groups of less than 100 plaintiffs in order to avoid removal under CAFA. [Continue Reading]

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
November 2017

Product Liability Monitor

November 2, 2017
New Developments
Mr. Gorsuch Goes to Washington: Is Chevron Endangered?
By Tierra Jones

Since the Supreme Court’s 1984 holding in Chevron USA v. Natural Resources Defense Council (“Chevron”), courts have looked to federal administrative agencies in interpreting regulatory statutes. Under this doctrine, commonly referred to as “Chevron deference,” courts adopt the reasonable interpretation of the relevant federal agency when application of statutory provisions is uncertain and the agency’s interpretation is reasonable. The Supreme Court went further in National Cable & Telecommunications Ass’n, holding that when the Chevron test is satisfied, “an agency’s interpretation should prevail even when a court has adopted a contrary interpretation in the past.” [Continue Reading]

Artificial Intelligence: A New Frontier for Product Liability Claims?
By David Dean

Long considered the domain of science fiction, recent years have seen numerous applications of artificial intelligence begin to enter the mainstream. Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have brought artificially intelligent personal assistants into our pockets and our living rooms. Google Translate applies machine learning to language translation, with near-human accuracy. IBM’s Watson is working with medical doctors in New York City to review patient records and recommend cancer treatment options. The first autonomous technology vehicles are already on the road. [Continue Reading]

Preparing for Depositions
By Alan Hoffman

Preparing witnesses for their depositions is an important task in discovery, and particularly so in product liability cases.  Product knowledge and expertise is often scattered, and sometimes reside in former employees. Loaded questions about “safety,” design choices, warnings and directions are often perplexing for witnesses. [Continue Reading]

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
October 2017

 

gavel courtOn October 17, 2017, the Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri reversed a $72 million judgment that was previously rendered against Johnson & Johnson, relying on a United States Supreme Court decision that was issued earlier this year. In June, the Supreme Court of the United States narrowed the scope of specific personal jurisdiction in Bristol Myers Squib Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, 137 S.Ct. 1773 (2017), holding that that each plaintiff in a multi-plaintiff case must establish personal jurisdiction over the defendant for his or her individual claim. Applying the Supreme Court’s decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the plaintiff’s verdict that was issued in February 2016 in Estate of Fox v. Johnson & Johnson, No. ED104580.  Continue Reading Missouri Appellate Court Reverses Verdict in Johnson & Johnson Talc Case

Product Liability Monitor

October 11, 2017
New Developments
America’s Opioid Epidemic: Who Will Be Held Accountable?
By Ally Schwab

In recent years America has seen an increasing number of opioid-involved deaths and is currently experiencing what the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) describes as an “opioid epidemic.” This crisis has been devastating to many communities and individuals, and States are feeling the effect, too. State, county and municipal governments have faced mounting costs in battling this crisis, and some are now taking the fight to the manufacturers and distributors of these drugs. [Continue Reading]

Robots are Becoming a Media Phenomenon—And a Legal Phenomenon, Too
By Eric Krauss

The American public cannot get enough of robots. From science fiction to scientific fact, robotic news and entertainment are part of our daily lives. This past year, at least two television series focused on robots set in the near future (“Westworld” on HBO and “Humans” on AMC) have captured viewers’ imagination, and last week the Blade Runner 2049 sequel opened at theaters nationwide. Indeed, the relationship between people and robotics has been a film subject at least since Fritz Lang’s silent film Metropolis in 1927.  Its continuing popularity reflects our love-hate relationship with automation. [Continue Reading]

Heed the Heeding Presumption
By Alan Hoffman

One of the legacies of the Restatement of Torts, Second, Section 402A published in 1965, is the so-called “heeding presumption.” Section 402A’s Comment j afforded product sellers a presumption that an adequate warning, when given, would be heeded to avoid the risk: “Where a warning is given, the seller may reasonably assume that it will be read and heeded.” However, courts soon began inverting Comment j to create a presumption favoring plaintiffs; i.e., that since they would have heeded an adequate warning, they need not show that the absence of an “adequate” warning caused their injury. Effectively, the heeding presumption shifts the burden to the seller to disprove causation. [Continue Reading]

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
September 2017

Product Liability Monitor

September 8, 2017
New Developments
The SELF DRIVE Act Motors Through Congress
By Mark Pratzel

On September 6, 2017 the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 3388, also known as the “Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act,” also known as the “SELF DRIVE Act.” The broad, bipartisan support for this legislation seems to reflect a rare Congressional consensus favoring national standards for autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. [Continue Reading]

FAA Preemption: The Continuing Sikkelee Saga
By Alan Hoffman

Last April, in a case closely followed by the aviation industry, the Third Circuit reversed a District Court order granting summary judgment to Textron Lycoming in a fatal Cessna 172 accident case on the ground that the plaintiffs’ design defect claims were preempted by the Federal Aviation Act. The Third Circuit held that the District Court erred in applying field preemption to plaintiff’s tort design defect claims, and remanded the case for further proceedings. [Continue Reading]

Standing as a Defense in Class Action Products Cases
By Jonathan Schmalfeld

It is a basic legal principle that, for party to have standing to bring a case, that party must have suffered (or in some instances be under the immediate threat to suffer) some actual harm. This is commonly referred to as the injury-in-fact requirement. This requirement is particularly important in cases where class certification is sought. [Continue Reading]

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 2017

 

websiteNew legislation passed by the House of Representatives on July 14 contains language that would allow the Pentagon and federal agencies to buy directly from commercially run online marketplaces such as Amazon, OfficeMax, Home Depot and other e-commerce retailers. The bill, H.R. 2810, is the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. It passed in the House 344 to 81. The Defense Acquisition Streamlining and Transparency Act, later merged into the Defense Authorization Act, was designed to reduce bureaucracy and costs for the government. The Washington Post recently stated that House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) sponsored the bill, saying ““Everybody understands what a difference Amazon has made…we’re trying to help DoD keep up with the changes in business practices with the goal of getting items faster, cheaper and keeping up with the changes in technology.”

Continue Reading House Passes Bill Allowing Government Agencies to Purchase Goods Online: A Major Development for E-Commerce

jury box court roomArticle I Section 22 of the Missouri Constitution holds that litigants have a right to trial by a fair and impartial jury of twelve qualified jurors. A qualified juror has been defined as one who is “in a position to enter the jury box disinterested and with an open mind, free from bias or prejudice.” Catlett v. Ill. Cent. Gulf R.R. 793 S.W.2d 351, 353 (Mo. Banc 1990).  The Missouri Supreme Court held earlier this month in Thaddeus Thomas et. al v. Mercy Hospitals East Communities, et. al, No. SC96034 that “The trial court is in the best position to evaluate a potential juror and is afforded broad discretion in determining whether the potential juror is ultimately qualified to serve.” The Court provided wide discretion to the trial judge’s ruling regarding the impartiality of a prospective juror.

Continue Reading Juror Impartiality: The Equivocal Juror

White HouseToday, President Trump officially signed H.R. 3364, the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) into law. CAATSA originated as a bill which was focused on only Iran. However, partially in response to Russian cyber-interference with the 2016 election, the Senate expanded CAATSA to impose additional sanctions against Russia and also codify into law various sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration in the form of Executive Orders. The House of Representatives then approved these additions and added further sanctions against North Korea. Eventually, the House and Senate approved the final version of CAATSA by a margin of 419-3 and 98-2, respectively. For additional detail on CAATSA’s legislative history, please see our previous alerts here, here and here.

Continue Reading President Signs Russian, Iran and North Korea Sanctions Legislation into Law