After more than five years of uncertainty, the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion in DeLisle v. Crane finally settled the debate over the standard for determining the admissibility of expert witness testimony in Florida state courts. Case No. SC16-2182 (Fla. Oct. 15, 2018). In a narrow 4-3 decision, the court rejected Daubert and adopted Frye. The outcome should come as no surprise. In 2017, in a rarely exercised move, the Florida Supreme Court declined to adopt the legislature’s 2013 revisions to the Florida Evidence Code codifying Daubert.

Continue Reading Frye Is Now, and Once Again, the Standard for Expert Opinion Admissibility in Florida

The discovery phase in your products liability lawsuit has been completed and it’s time to decide the next course of action before proceeding to trial. One possibility, of course, is to move for summary judgment to knock out the entire case pending against your client. However, you have concluded that, despite the strengths of your case, there are enough “issues of fact” to make the exercise probably useless.

Have you considered instead a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment? Perhaps you should.

The first step is to determine whether your jurisdiction permits motions for partial summary judgment to be filed. Rule 56 of The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure specifically calls for “Partial” summary judgments in its very title. In my home state, New York’s CPLR 3212(e) reads, “In any other action summary judgment may be granted as to one or more causes of action, or part thereof, in favor of any one or more parties, to the extent warranted, on such terms as may be just.” Thus, there is little doubt that under the right reading of the law and facts, a partial summary judgment might be allowed. Continue Reading The Motion for Partial Summary Judgment: The Litigator’s Often Forgotten Tool

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

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