Articles Posted in Products Liability

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In this case, a manufacturer sold a surgical device to a hospital, which credentialed some of its physicians to perform surgery with the device. The manufacturer's warnings regarding that device were at the heart of this case: whether the manufacturer owed a duty to warn the hospital that purchased the device. The manufacturer argued that since it warned the physician who performed the surgery, it had no duty to warn any other party. The Supreme Court disagreed because the doctor was often not the product purchaser. The Court found that the WPLA required manufacturers to warn purchasers about their dangerous medical devices. “Hospitals need these warnings to credential the operating physicians and to provide optimal care for patients. In this case, the trial court did not instruct the jury that the manufacturer had a duty to warn the hospital that purchased the device. Consequently, we find that the trial court erred.” View "Taylor v. Intuitive Surgical Inc." on Justia Law

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Virgil Becker, a retired doctor, was killed in a plane crash. His estate claimed that a faulty carburetor caused the crash. Forward Technology Industries Inc. (FTI) built a component for that carburetor. The Estate brought numerous claims against FTI, including a state product liability claim implicating a faulty carburetor component. FTI moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 preempted state law. The federal district court for the Third Circuit recently found that federal aviation regulations do not preempt the state product liability of an aviation systems manufacturer because they were “not so pervasive as to indicate congressional intent to preempt state law.” The Washington Supreme Court followed the Third Circuit and found that the Federal Aviation Act did not preempt state law, reversed the Court of Appeals which held to the contrary, and remanded this case back to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Estate of Becker v. Forward Tech. Indus., Inc." on Justia Law

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The trial court in this case ruled that under the Washington courts' application of "Frye v. United States," there must be general acceptance in the relevant scientific community that a particular type of in utero toxic exposure can cause a particular type of birth defect before expert testimony on causation is admissible. Plaintiff Julie Anderson worked for Akzo Nobel Coatings, Inc., from 1998 until she filed a safety complaint with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) and was fired. While it was not officially part of her job, Plaintiff regularly mixed paint. Employees were required by official company policy to wear respirators when mixing paint, but there was reason to believe that the policy was not rigorously enforced and may have been actively undermined by management. Plaintiff gave birth to a son in January 2000. By 2003, it was clear the child suffered from "medical abnormalities." He was diagnosed with a neuronal migration defect, congenital hemiplegia, microcephalus, and a multicystic dysplastic kidney, among other things, along with "delays in motor, communication, cognitive, and adaptive behavior." Upon review of the trial record, the Supreme Court disagreed with the trial court's interpretation and subsequent ruling on the issue. The Court held that the Frye test is not implicated if the theory and the methodology relied upon and used by the expert to reach an opinion on causation is generally accepted by the relevant scientific community. The Court affirmed the trial court's rulings on comparative fault and wrongful discharge. The case was remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Anderson v. Akzo Nobel Coatings, Inc." on Justia Law