Toxic Tort Monitor

June 18, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editor: Natalie Holden
New Developments
New Tool for Non-Resident Defendants Seeking to Challenge Personal Jurisdiction in Illinois
By Dominque Savinelli

If you are a non-resident corporate defendant in Cook County, Illinois, you should become familiar with Campbell v. Acme Insulations, Inc., as it will undoubtedly serve as a useful blueprint for future challenges to the exercise of personal jurisdiction in that state. [Continue Reading]

United States Supreme Court to Consider the Bare Metal Defense
By Andrew Hahn

The United States Supreme Court granted a petition for certiorari in Air and Liquid Systems Corp. et al. v. Devries et al. and is set to wade into the fiercely contested waters surrounding the bare metal defense under maritime law. Generally, the bare metal defense asserts that defendants that manufactured products composed of only metal, and no asbestos components, have no liability regarding asbestos-containing components later utilized in or on their products. The Court will directly address the question: “Can products-liability defendants be held liable under maritime law for injuries caused by products that they did not make, sell, or distribute?” [Continue Reading]

Missouri Supreme Court Holds that the Workers Compensation Additional Mesothelioma Benefit Provides Claims-Made Coverage Trigger
By Eric B. Krauss

In Accident Fund Ins. Co. v. Casey, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission’s determination that Respondent, the employer’s workers compensation insurer, was liable for Appellant’s claim for enhanced mesothelioma benefits. [Continue Reading]

“Take-Home More than Seashells”: Rhode Island Court Rules that Employer Owes Duty of Care to Protect Third-Party Non-Employees
By Ketajh Brown

The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations—contemporarily nicknamed “the Ocean State” is known for famous clear-broth Quahog clam chowder, The Breakers Mansion, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and its Napatree Point Conservation Area beaches covered in seashells.  While tourists often take home Napatree’s brilliant and pristine shells, a recent Superior Court opinion of first impression addressed whether Rhode Island law imposes duty of care upon employers to protect third-party non-employees from take-home asbestos exposure. [Continue Reading]

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
May 2018

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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

 

March 14, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Precluding a Second Bite at the Apple; Federal District Court Grants Summary Judgment on Basis of Doctrine of Collateral Estoppel
By Tierra Jones

In the interest of justice and courtroom efficiency, res judicata aims to prevent parties from re-litigating previously legally resolved issues and claims involving the same or similar parties. Two doctrines – claim preclusion and issue preclusion – are encompassed in res judicata. Issue preclusion, also known as the doctrine of collateral estoppel, is the narrower doctrine of the two. [Continue Reading]

Personal Jurisdiction and LLCs – Does Citizenship Matter?
By Jen Dlugosz

When deciding whether to remove a case when an LLC is a party it is necessary to look at the citizenship of the LLC’s members to determine whether there is diversity for subject matter jurisdiction. However, citizenship of LLC members is not a key component of personal jurisdiction. The tests for subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction, while sometimes muddled, are in fact distinct. Simply put, just because an LLC is a citizen in the jurisdiction, does not equate to personal jurisdiction over the LLC in that jurisdiction. [Continue Reading]

Eastern District of Missouri Denies Plaintiff’s Motion to Reconsider Personal Jurisdiction Ruling
By Natalie Holden

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri recently denied an asbestos plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of the court’s previous grant of defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. [Continue Reading]

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
February 2018

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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]

healthcare technology iotThe influence of the Internet of Things (IoT) will undoubtedly be transformational with a total potential economic impact estimated to be $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025. In the race into the IoT marketplace, there are both known and unknown legal hurdles that will affect those who offer of goods and services during the proliferation of the Internet of Things.

Some of the current and potential legal hurdles related to the IoT are well known, some are not, and some are the result of the intersection between the physical and virtual worlds, and the collision between two intersecting major drivers of innovation in IoT. On one hand, there are the established manufacturers of products and consumer goods whose expertise in developing, testing and manufacturing products puts them in an advantageous position. On the other hand, there are the technology companies who are used to developing software and whose expertise lies in software development, data collection, and data processing. Continue Reading Hurdles the Internet of Things Must Clear for Manufacturers and Providers

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]

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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 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]

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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 2017

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]

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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
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]

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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
July 2017

Product Liability Monitor

July 14, 2017
New Developments
Rats! Eco-Friendly Soy-Based Insulation Could Spell Trouble Down the Road
By Sarah Rashid

A new “eco-friendly” biodegradable material used to insulate wiring in newer cars could make for trouble — and lawsuits — down the road for car manufacturers. This insulation is made from soybeans, making it more environmentally friendly and cheaper for car manufacturers. But it has a downside: it serves as an attractive, tasty treat for rats, mice, squirrel, rabbits, and other rodents. [Continue Reading]

The Benefits And Risks Of Autonomous Vehicles
By Leslie Gutierrez

On June 15, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that will allow autonomous vehicles (AVs) to operate on the state’s roads. Texas is now one of 17 states (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, plus Washington D.C.) that have passed legislation related to AVs. Governors in Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin have also issued executive orders related to AVs. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has formed a committee to determine AV best practices, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee formed a similar interagency work group. [Continue Reading]

Speak, Corporation!
By Alan Hoffman

Mitt Romney famously told a heckler during his Presidential campaign, “Corporations are people, my friend.” While corporations are not people, they and other organizations surely are legal persons capable of suing and being sued. But how to take the deposition of a corporation or organization which can only speak through employees or representatives? [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
June 2017

Product Liability Monitor

June 9, 2017
New Developments
Lung Cancer Without Asbestosis? The Effects of Smoking
By Mark Zellmer

In the medical and scientific literature, a finding of asbestosis is clear evidence that asbestos at least contributed to cause a person’s lung cancer. Many medical experts regard a finding of asbestosis as essential to any finding that asbestos caused any lung cancer. Other experts look for sufficient exposure to cause asbestosis, even if not evident from radiology or pathology. Still others take a position contrary to both views. [Continue Reading]

Defend Trade Secrets Act: Protecting Product Manufacturers and Sellers’ Confidential Information
By Dan Jaffe

Manufacturers and sellers of products can use the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) to effectively protect their trade secrets. The DTSA was enacted on May 11, 2016, extending the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. §§ 1831, et seq.). DTSA creates a federal civil cause of action for trade secret misappropriation whereby “[a]n owner of a trade secret that is misappropriated may bring a civil action . . . if the trade secret is related to a product or service used in or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce.” [Continue Reading]

Protective Orders in Product Cases
By Alan Hoffman

Discovery in product liability cases often involves inquiry into and disclosure of a firm’s confidential internal product information and documents not available to competitors or the public that it has a legitimate interest in protecting. Plaintiffs frequently serve broad brush stroke discovery in an effort to avoid in missing documents, information and witnesses that might prove relevant to prosecuting their claims. Defense counsel must act quickly and effectively to defend their clients’ valid interests, and seek to limit the scope of discovery as much as possible to avoid costly and burdensome discovery disruptive to their clients’ normal course of business. [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
May 2017

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