Product Liability Update

Product Liability Update: July 2019

August 6, 2019

Foley Hoag LLP publishes this quarterly Update primarily concerning developments in product liability and related law from federal and state courts applicable to Massachusetts, but also featuring selected developments for New York and New Jersey. 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

  • Massachusetts Federal Court Dismisses Suit By Japanese Plaintiffs Against Massachusetts Reactor Designer For Japanese Disaster Based On Forum Non Conveniens, Citing Japanese Compensation System That Provided Alternative Forum Albeit Only Against Different Party, Difficulties In Obtaining Evidence From Japan And Weak Local Interest In Suit
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Grants Parents’ Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Their Claims With Prejudice Based On Insufficient Scientific Evidence Of Causation But Minor Son’s Without, Finding No Prejudice To Defendant As Underlying Law Normally Permits Minors To Bring Claims Years Later On Reaching Majority
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Holds Diversity of Citizenship Created By Plaintiffs’ Voluntary Dismissal Of Some Claims Against Non-Diverse Defendant But Summary Judgment On Last Claim Not Result Of Plaintiffs’ Voluntary Acts And Hence Not Basis For Federal Jurisdiction, Plaintiffs’ Token Discovery Requests To Defendant Did Not Establish Fraudulent Joinder Where Claim Was Reasonably Possible Under Applicable Law
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Holds Expert Testimony Regarding Significant Differences Between Failed Product And New Sample Could Support Finding Of Manufacturing Defect, But Mere Negligence or Warranty Breach Due To Such Defect Does Not By Itself Establish Unfair Or Deceptive Practices
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Holds Turbine Manufacturer’s Role As Supplier Of Asbestos Insulation Installed On Its Generators Merely Incidental To Its Role As Generator Designer And Builder, Hence Statute of Repose for Torts Arising from Real Property Improvements Barred Plaintiff’s Claims

NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY SUPPLEMENT

  • New York Court of Appeals Holds Due Process Prohibits Personal Jurisdiction Over Ohio Gun Merchant Who Sold Gun In Ohio To Resident Who Resold It Illegally To Shooter In New York, As Defendant Had No Contacts With State And Purchaser’s Comment He Wouldn’t Mind Opening Gun Shop There Insufficient To Constitute Defendant’s Purposeful Availment of Privilege Of Conducting Activities In State
  • New York Court of Appeals Holds Coke Ovens Designed And Manufactured By Defendant Using Standardized Process But Adapted To Coke Plant’s Requirements, And Installed As Oven Battery By Defendant, Were Products Creating Strict Liability Duty To Warn Despite Service Component Of Defendant’s Work

Excerpt:

Massachusetts Federal Court Dismisses Suit By Japanese Plaintiffs Against Massachusetts Reactor Designer For Japanese Disaster Based On Forum Non Conveniens, Citing Japanese Compensation System That Provided Alternative Forum Albeit Only Against Different Party, Difficulties In Obtaining Evidence From Japan And Weak Local Interest In Suit

In Shinya Imamura v. GE, 371 F. Supp. 3d 1 (D. Mass. 2019), multiple Japanese individuals and businesses sued a nuclear reactor designer headquartered in Massachusetts for property damage and economic harm caused by the 2011 tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Plaintiffs alleged defendant negligently designed the plant’s reactors and safety mechanisms, including by lowering the bluff over the ocean where the plant was built, placing emergency generators and seawater pumps in the basement without protection against flooding, not ensuring a backup power source in case the generators failed, and not including sufficient space for emergency equipment.

Download the July 2019 Foley Hoag Product Liability Update (pdf).