Product Liability Update

Product Liability Update

April 25, 2011

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:

  • United States Supreme Court Holds Federal Vaccine Statute Expressly Preempts All State Law Design Defect Claims Against Vaccine Manufacturers Rather Than Only Claims Where Injury Could Not Have Been Avoided By Feasible Alternative Design
  • United States Supreme Court Holds State Tort Suits Claiming Automobile Manufacturers Should Have Installed Lap-and-Shoulder Belts Not Impliedly Preempted by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Because Preserving Manufacturer Choice of Safety Restraints Was Not Significant Federal Regulatory Objective
  • Massachusetts Appeals Court Notes, But Does Not Address, Admissibility of Plaintiff’s Expert Testimony That “Each and Every Exposure to Asbestos” Is “Substantial Contributing Factor” to Disease; Declines to Decide Whether Manufacturer Has Duty to Warn of Dangers of Another Manufacturer’s Product
  • First Circuit Holds Expert Opinion That Benzene Causes Rare Leukemia Subtype Admissible Because Applying “Bradford Hill” or “Weight of the Evidence” Criteria to Conclude Association Between Benzene and Disease Was Causal Is Scientifically Reliable; Court, However, Appears to Ignore Lack of Scientifically Reliable Evidence of Association
  • Massachusetts Federal District Court Holds Defense Expert’s Testimony on Lack of Causal Link Between Drug and Suicide Attempts Admissible Because Expert Relied On His Own Peer-Reviewed Study, But Precludes Testimony on Suicidal Thoughts as Study Was Limited to Suicide Attempts

Excerpt:

United States Supreme Court Holds Federal Vaccine Statute Expressly Preempts All State Law Design Defect Claims Against Vaccine Manufacturers Rather Than Only Claims Where Injury Could Not Have Been Avoided By Feasible Alternative Design

In Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC, 131 S. Ct. 1068 (Feb. 22, 2011), a child’s pediatrician administered doses of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (“DTP”) vaccine according to the Center for Disease Control’s recommended childhood immunization schedule. Within 24 hours of her vaccination, the child began to experience seizures, suffering over 100 of them within a single month. Her doctors eventually diagnosed her with “residual seizure disorder” and “developmental delay.” Thereafter, the child’s parents commenced a proceeding seeking compensation for her injuries pursuant to procedures set forth in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (“NCVIA”).  

Download the Foley Hoag April 2011 Product Liability Update (.pdf)