Product Liability Update

Product Liability Update

October 1, 2013

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 Issue:

  • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (Finally) Enforces Agreement for Individualized Arbitration of Unfair and Deceptive Practices Claims Following United States Supreme Court Decision Reversing Another State High Court’s Ruling that Such Agreements Are Unenforceable Where They Effectively Deny Any Remedy Due to Impracticality of Pursuing Same
  • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Holds Toy Seller’s Failure to Ensure Pool Slide Complied with Federal Safety Regulation Supports Liability Verdict, Non-Compliance Plus Seller’s Right to Indemnification From Manufacturer Supports Gross Negligence Finding Justifying Punitive Damages, and Approximately 7:1 Compensatory-to-Punitive Damages Ratio Does Not Violate Due Process
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Holds Expert Opinion That Benzene Caused Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia Inadmissible Because “Differential Diagnosis” Unreliable Where Majority of Disease Cases Are of Unknown Cause, “Linear No-Threshold” or “No Safe Level” Theory is Scientifically Unreliable and Physician Was Unqualified to Draw Conclusions From Widely Disparate Epidemiologic Studies
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Holds No Issue Preclusion on Design Defect Arises from Prior Jury Verdict for Different Plaintiff Under Different Law, and Failure-to-Warn Claim Fails Because No Evidence Plaintiff Would Have Behaved Differently If Proposed Warning Had Been Given
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Holds “Economic Loss Doctrine” Does Not Bar Claim for Breach of Implied Warranty of Fitness for Particular Purpose to Recover for Purely Economic Loss Because Claim Was Contractual, Not Tort-Based, in Nature
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Dismisses Claims Against Hip Implant Manufacturers Because Plaintiff Failed to Allege Specific Facts Regarding Alleged Defects, Express Warranties and How Defendants’ Conduct Caused Her Injuries

Excerpt:

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (Finally) Enforces Agreement for Individualized Arbitration of Unfair and Deceptive Practices Claims Following United States Supreme Court Decision Reversing Another State High Court’s Ruling that Such Agreements Are Unenforceable Where They Effectively Deny Any Remedy Due to Impracticality of Pursuing Same

In Feeney v. Dell, Inc., 466 Mass. 1001 (Aug. 1, 2013) (“Feeney III”), plaintiffs filed a putative class action claiming the defendant computer retailer had violated Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A (the Massachusetts unfair and deceptive practices statute) by collecting sales tax on plaintiffs’ purchase of service contracts when no such tax was actually due.

Download the Foley Hoag October 2013 Product Liability Update (.pdf)