Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Products Liability
Allen v. Walmart Stores, LLC
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against defendants after plaintiff's daughter died from inhaling a large quantity of aerosol dust remover in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The court held that plaintiff's negligence claim based on premises liability failed because she did not plead that there were any issues with the conditions of the premises, and because Wal-Mart did not owe the daughter any duty of care regarding her purchase or abuse of dust remover. Furthermore, Wal-Mart was not liable for negligent entrustment under Restatement (Second) of Torts 390 and under Texas laws, and Wal-Mart employees were not liable in their individual capacities. The court affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to remand and motion to alter or amend the complaint. View "Allen v. Walmart Stores, LLC" on Justia Law
Williams v. Manitowoc Cranes, LLC
Plaintiff filed suit against Manitowoc Cranes after her husband, John, was injured in a crane accident that rendered him physically and mentally incapacitated. The jury ruled for plaintiff, finding that Manitowoc failed to warn Model 16000 Series crane operators that, if the crane tips over, large weights stacked on the rear of the crane can slide forward and strike the operator's cab.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's final judgment against Manitowoc for $2.8 million in actual economic damages and $600,000 in non-economic damages. The court held that Manitowoc was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the failure-to-warn claim where Manitowoc's warning was inadequate, and the inadequate warning proximately caused John's injuries. In this case, Manitowoc's misuse allegations did not convince the court that John's alleged misuse proximately caused his injuries, and the jury had an adequate basis for finding that an alternative warning could have communicated valuable additional information about the falling counterweight danger, allowing John to avoid injury. Finally, the court rejected Manitowoc's expert and evidentiary challenges. View "Williams v. Manitowoc Cranes, LLC" on Justia Law
Christopher v. Johnson & Johnson
These appeals and cross-appeal stemmed from the Pinnacle Hip multidistrict litigation (MDL). After plaintiffs received Pinnacle's metal-on-metal design, suffered complications, and required revision surgery, plaintiffs secured a half-billion-dollar jury verdict. Both plaintiffs and defendants appealed. The Fifth Circuit held that only a few of plaintiffs' claims failed as a matter of law but that the district court's evidentiary errors and plaintiff's counsel's deceptions furnished independent grounds for a new trial. In this case, counsel concealed payments to two key expert witnesses. Therefore, DePuy was entitled to judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) on Greer's and Peterson's defective marketing claims; J&J was entitled to JMOL on all plaintiffs' aiding-and-abetting claims; and the remaining claims avoided JMOL, although a new trial was required. View "Christopher v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law
Davidson v. Fairchild Controls Corp.
After plaintiffs were injured when oil from an airplane's air cycle machine leaked into the cabin and caused the cockpit to fill with smoke and fumes, they filed suit against several defendants. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Fairchild Controls, holding that plaintiffs' design defect theory failed where the limited expert testimony about the air-foil bearing technology did not prove that a safer design was feasible. The court also held that the failure to warn claim failed because plaintiffs were knowledgeable users, and a warning would have been superfluous. View "Davidson v. Fairchild Controls Corp." on Justia Law
Wildman v. Medtronic, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit alleging breach of express warranty under Texas law, after a Medtronic device implanted in his back to relieve pain did not last as long as the company promised. The Fifth Circuit held that the warranty on Medtronic's website goes beyond what the FDA considered and thus the narrow breach of express warranty claim plaintiff asserted was not preempted by the FDA regulation. The court explained that a verdict finding that Medtronic misled consumers like plaintiff in making this representation would not undermine any FDA finding concerning the safety of the device. Rather, it would be enforcing a duty that also exists under federal law: to not make misleading representations about the device. To escape such liability, Medtronic would not need to redesign the device, but only to limit its warranties to those approved by the FDA. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wildman v. Medtronic, Inc." on Justia Law
Lyles v. Medtronic, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against MSD in Louisiana state court under the Louisiana Products Liability Act for both the Atlantis Plate and an Infuse Bone Graft Device that was surgically implanted in his body. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on claims dealing with the Atlantis Plate, holding that the district court did not create manifest error by considering the malpractice complaint and that plaintiff did not meet his burden under the res ipsa loquitur doctrine. The court also affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that plaintiff and his attorney did not exercise due diligence in pursuing the discovery of documents dealing with the Verte-Stack or Progenix, and that MSD's actions in answering plaintiff's interrogatory and production request were in good faith. View "Lyles v. Medtronic, Inc." on Justia Law
In Re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.
Petitioners sought a writ of mandamus arising from an MDL proceeding involving more than 9,300 plaintiffs alleging product liability claims for designing, manufacturing, and distributing an allegedly defective hip-implant device. A majority of the Fifth Circuit denied the writ that petitioners sought to prohibit the district court from proceeding to trial on plaintiffs' cases. A different majority held that so-called Lexecon objections were not waived and that the district court abused its discretion in finding waiver; that petitioners have shown the required clear and indisputable right to a writ of mandamus; and that petitioners have established that a writ of mandamus was appropriate under the circumstances. In regard to the ultimate result, a majority of the court concluded that petitioners have not shown that they have no other adequate means to attain the relief they sought. A majority of the court requested the district court vacate its ruling on waiver and to withdraw its order for a trial. View "In Re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc." on Justia Law
Burdett v. Remington Arms Co., LLC
Plaintiff filed suit against defendants after he was injured when his rifle suddenly discharged, firing a bullet through his foot. Plaintiff alleged five products liability claims and one claim under Texas law. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of defendants because plaintiff's claim was time-barred. At issue was whether the district court properly applied Texas's choice of law rules, which is dependent upon whether section 71.031(a) of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code is a choice of law provision and whether the statute applies in federal court. The court concluded that Hyde v. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. is controlling in this case. In light of Hyde, the court concluded that section 71.031 is a choice of law provision that applies in both state and federal courts, and an analysis of section 71.031 demonstrates the result is the same regardless of whether plaintiff is considered a resident of Texas or Georgia. In this case, even assuming the rifle was first purchased in 1998, plaintiff had until 2013 to initiate his products liability suit, but he did not do so until 2015, which was more than fifteen years from the date of the sale of the rifle. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Burdett v. Remington Arms Co., LLC" on Justia Law
Sims, Jr. v. Kia Motors of America
Plaintiffs, family members of Henry Sims, Sr., filed a products liability action against KMA and KMC after Mr. Sims died in a tragic car accident when he was a passenger in a 2010 Kia Soul. Plaintiffs alleged that the Soul's fuel tank was defectively designed. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. The court concluded that the district court did not err in applying Texas law to all claims in the suit where the accident took place in Texas. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding plaintiffs' experts because they did not rely on sufficiently reliable methods and data. Finally, without admissible expert testimony, the court concluded that the district court correctly determined that plaintiffs cannot raise a genuine issue of material fact concerning key elements of their products liability claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Sims, Jr. v. Kia Motors of America" on Justia Law
Carlson v. Bioremedi Therapeutic Sys.
Plaintiff filed a products liability suit against defendants after suffering severe injuries soon after being treated with defendants' product, the ProNeuroLight. At issue is the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to exclude the medical testimony of a chiropractor. The court concluded that the district court abused its discretion by admitting the testimony without performing the requisite Daubert inquiry regarding the chiropractor's qualifications. Furthermore, the district court's abuse of discretion affected plaintiff's substantial rights where the chiropractor was the sole witness in defendants' case. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Carlson v. Bioremedi Therapeutic Sys." on Justia Law