Since our last blog post on lithium-ion batteries, there has been a report that a self-balancing scooter, known as a hoverboard, is the suspected cause for a March 10, 2017, fatal fire that occurred in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The fire resulted in the death of a three-year-old girl. Fire origin and cause experts are still investigating, but statements from persons who escaped the home indicate that a charging hoverboard “exploded” and caused the fire.
Just over a year ago, I authored a Product Liability Advocate blog entry and a Law360 article explaining appropriate methods for asserting objections under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34, as amended on December 1, 2015. Last week, Judge Andrew J. Peck, U.S.M.J. of the Southern District of New York, issued an order that in his court any discovery objections that fail to comply with Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended on December 1, 2015, will be deemed waived:
The December 1, 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are now 15 months old. It is time for all counsel to learn the now-current Rules and update their “form” files. From now on in cases before this Court, any discovery response that does not comply with Rule 34’s requirement to state objections with specificity (and to clearly indicate whether responsive material is being withheld on the basis of objection) will be deemed a waiver of all objections (except as to privilege). Continue Reading Don’t Risk Waiving All Objections to Discovery Responses
In Water Splash v. Menon, case number 16-254 before the U.S. Supreme Court, a long-standing and deep split of authority on a basic question involving international service of process has finally reached the high court. This case was granted certiorari by the Court in early December 2016. It has been briefed by both sides and is now set for argument to proceed on March 22, 2017. The question presented is whether the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (Hague Service Convention) allows service of process by mail.
The Supreme Court of California has overturned prior case law and imposed broad new liability on “employers and premises owners” in “take-home” toxic exposure cases. In a lengthy opinion issued in the consolidated Kesner v. Superior Court and Haver v. BNSF Railway Co. matters, the Court stated:
We hold that the duty of employers and premises owners to exercise ordinary care in their use of asbestos includes preventing exposure to asbestos carried by the bodies and clothing of on-site workers. Where it is reasonably foreseeable that workers, their clothing, or personal effects will act as vectors carrying asbestos from the premises to household members, employers have a duty to take reasonable care to prevent this means of transmission. This duty also applies to premises owners who use asbestos on their property, subject to any exceptions and affirmative defenses generally applicable to premises owners, such as the rules of contractor liability.
The Court held that “an employer’s or property owner’s duty to prevent take-home exposure extends only to members of a worker’s household, i.e., persons who live with the worker and are thus foreseeable in close and sustained contact with the worker over a significant period of time.”
The California Court of Appeal has confirmed that the “government contractor” defense may apply to products made available to both the federal government and commercial markets, even where the defendant did not design or produce the product at issue.