Product Liability Update

Product Liability Update

May 18, 2010

Foley Hoag's Product Liability Update is a quarterly update concerning developments in product liability and related law of interest to product manufacturers and sellers. If you find this update useful, please encourage your colleagues and contacts to also register with us on our Web site. As always, you can access all of our publications at www.foleyhoag.com

Included In This Update:

  • Massachusetts Federal District Court Dismisses Product Liability Claims Based on “Benefit-of-the Bargain” Theory, Holding Neither Pure Economic Loss Nor Apprehension of Future Harm Is Legally Cognizable Injury Where Product Has Not Malfunctioned
  • First Circuit Vacates Denial of Class Certification in Environmental Tort Claims, Holding that, on Fuller Analysis, Common Issues May Predominate and Class Treatment May Be Superior Method of Litigating Claims
  • Massachusetts Federal District Court Holds Statute Limiting Exclusions of Warranty Applies Only to Consumer Transactions, Finds Disputes Concerning Whether Buyer Gave “Precise and Complete” Specifications Negating Implied Warranty and Whether Plaintiff Was Sophisticated User
  • Massachusetts Appeals Court Holds that Actual Filing, Rather Than Mere Service, of Motion to Amend Complaint to Add Defendants Is Required to “Commence” Action Against Such Defendants for Purpose of Statute of Repose
  • Massachusetts Federal District Court Holds Plaintiff in Product Liability Action May Proceed Under Theory of Res Ipsa Loquitor in Absence of Expert Testimony Establishing Product Defect, But Expert Testimony Is Required to Prove Medical Causation

Excerpt:

Massachusetts Federal District Court Dismisses Product Liability Claims Based on “Benefit-of-the Bargain” Theory, Holding Neither Pure Economic Loss Nor Apprehension of Future Harm Is Legally Cognizable Injury Where Product Has Not Malfunctioned

In Watkins v. Omni Life Science, Inc., 2010 WL 809820 (D. Mass. March 9, 2010), two Oklahoma residents brought a purported class action against a medical device manufacturer in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts asserting claims, among others, for breach of implied warranty, violations of Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A (the Massachusetts unfair and deceptive practices statute) and violations of the consumer protection laws of all other states as a result of the allegedly defective design of a hip prosthesis. Although neither plaintiff alleged that the hip had malfunctioned, they claimed injury because the hips were “substantially likely” to fail and thus less valuable than plaintiffs believed, i.e., that they did not receive the benefit of their bargain. Plaintiffs also alleged injury in the form of apprehension that the hips would fail in the future.   

Download the Foley Hoag May 2010 Product Liability Update (.pdf)