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Product Liability: 2014 Year in Review

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01.30.2015 | Legal Update

Massachusetts state and federal courts issued a number of interesting product liability decisions in 2014. The Product Liability and Toxic Tort Litigation Group at Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP recently reviewed these cases. Highlighted below are some of the key cases and issues decided in the past year.

Genereux v. Raytheon Co., 754 F.3d 51 (1st Cir. 2014): The Supreme Judicial Court, not the First Circuit Court of Appeals, must determine whether a cause of action for medical monitoring can lie under Massachusetts law where plaintiffs merely faced an increased risk of harm. (Selya, J.)

Kerrin v. Titeflex Corp., 770 F.3d 978 (1st Cir. 2014): In contrast to Genereux, in the same year the court decided Kerrin v. Titeflex Corp., where in conducting an injury-in-fact analysis for Article III standing purposes, the First Circuit recognized that exposure to an increased risk of future injury may constitute an injury in fact. However, the Court stated that those who assert such claims must allege sufficient facts to permit a court to evaluate the likelihood that the alleged defective product risk will occur. (Lynch, Chief J.)

Zeman v. Williams, 2014 WL 3058298 (D. Mass. July 7, 2014): The Court refused to dismiss plaintiffs’ claim for negligent drafting of a clinical trial’s informed consent against the trial’s sponsor stating that the FDA’s regulations could be interpreted to imply a duty of the sponsor for warnings provided in the informed consent. (O’Toole, J.)

Ferreira v. Chrysler Group LLC, 468 Mass. 336, 13 N.E.3d 561 (2014): A car manufacturer has a statutory duty to defend a dealer under M.G.L. c. 93B, § 8(a), even in the absence of a negligent design or manufacture claim, where the dealer promptly notifies the manufacturer in writing of the assertion of a claim alleging damages arising from a defective car or part caused solely by the fault or neglect of the manufacturer. (Gants, J.)

Albright v. Boston Scientific Corp., 2014 WL 3880506 (Mass. Super. July 29, 2014): Jury delivers a defense verdict in the first trial of over 500 pelvic mesh cases relating to Boston Scientific’s products pending in Massachusetts.

DiPasquale v. Suburban Propane Limited Partnership, 11-CV-1539-F, 2014 WL 7343976 (Mass. Super. Dec. 22, 2014): Companies that include warnings regarding another’s product in their instructions for use voluntarily assume a duty to warn. (Curran, Assoc. J.)

For a more comprehensive analysis of the decisions discussed above, please click here.

Nutter’s Product Liability: 2014 Year in Review is a publication of the Product Liability and Toxic Tort Litigation Group of Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP in Boston. The bulletin was prepared by Shagha Tousi and Alison T. Holdway, with editorial assistance from Andrew J. McElaney, Jr. For further information or if we can be of assistance, please contact your Nutter products liability lawyer or the chairperson of the Product Liability and Toxic Tort Litigation Group:

David L. Ferrera
Chair, Product Liability and Toxic Tort Litigation Group
617.439.2247 
dferrera@nutter.com

Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP was co-founded by Louis D. Brandeis and has been in continuous practice in Boston for over 135 years, today numbering 145 attorneys across multiple areas of legal practice. For decades, one of the backbones of Nutter’s civil litigation practice has been product liability defense. Our attorneys have years of real-world experience defending companies through trial and appeal in all types of product liability litigation, with a particular emphasis in the areas of drug and medical device claims and toxic torts. Our firm commitment to building a culture and atmosphere of excellence has led to Nutter earning a “Tier 1” ranking in Boston in the U.S. News & World Report “Best Law Firms” edition for Product Liability Defense.

This advisory is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. Under the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered as advertising.

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