Recently, there have been several food warnings and recalls based on confirmed or suspected Listeria contamination. Some recent culprits have been smoked salmon, turnip sticks, pre-made sandwiches, ice cream bars, cream cheese, green beans, and frozen meatballs. Fresh, raw, and unpasteurized products are especially susceptible to Listeria contamination. Continue Reading Listeria Hysteria

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on March 27 its plan to hold a public hearing on May 16 “to receive information from all interested parties about the potential safety issues and hazards associated with internet-connected consumer products,” commonly known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Continue Reading CPSC Takes a Dip in the IoT Regulatory Pool

On March 16, 2018, Massachusetts’s highest court , the Supreme Judicial Court, issued a ruling that we believe will increase the product liability risk exposure for pharmaceutical manufacturers in the state. In the case of Rafferty v. Merck & Co., SJC-12347 (March 16, 2018), the Supreme Judicial Court held that a user of a generic drug may not bring a simple negligence claim against the brand-name manufacturer for failure to warn, but the user could bring a failure to warn claim against the brand-name manufacturer if it could show that that the brand name manufacturer intentionally failed to update a label on its drug, “knowing or having reason to know of an unreasonable risk of death or grave bodily injury associated with its use.” The Supreme Judicial Court’s holding requires a plaintiff to show that the brand-name manufacturer’s actions were reckless, as opposed to only negligent, which is a more stringent standard to prove. The Court’s decision sought to balance protection for the consumers of generic drugs in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Pliva Inc. v. Mensing,[1] while taking into account the burden on brand-name manufacturers. However, by its own admission, this latest decision from Massachusetts’s highest Court stands in the minority of courts that have ruled on this issue. The decision is an important one, however, because brand-name manufacturers can now be held liable to the users of the generic versions of its drug under a theory of reckless failure to warn. It will be interesting to see if other jurisdictions that have not addressed the issue will follow the Massachusetts high court.
Continue Reading Rafferty v. Merck Expands Potential Liability for Drug Manufacturers in Massachusetts

Every commercial airline flight carries scores of lithium-ion powered batteries in phones, tablets, computers, activity trackers, cameras, headphones and other devices. Consumers need to respect the risks that are associated with these products if not used, stored or charged correctly. Battery manufacturers and the manufacturers of products containing them must be ready to respond to all claimed incidents.
Continue Reading Lithium-Ion Batteries: Fire in the Sky?

In Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc., 104 A. 2d 328 (Pa. 2014), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court cast aside more than 35 years of precedent when it reformulated the standards determining the circumstances under which a product is considered defective within the context of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 402 (A). From the court’s decision in Azzarello v. Black Bros. Co., 391 A. 2d 1020 (Pa. 1978) until Tincher, a product defect existed if the product lacked any feature necessary for it to safely perform its intended function or had any condition that rendered it unsafe for its intended use. Tincher rejected these criteria, holding instead that a plaintiff could prove the existence of a product defect by showing that (1) the danger posed by the product is unknowable and unacceptable to the ordinary consumer or (2) a reasonable person would conclude that the probability and seriousness of harm caused by the product outweigh the burden or costs of taking precautions.
Continue Reading Tincher Returns to Blow Away Some of Its Own Smoke