Articles Posted in Products Liability

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The family of Mrs. Francisca Gomez (the Gomezes) appealed a district court decision granting Crookham Company’s (Crookham) motion for summary judgment on all claims relating to Mrs. Gomez’s death. Crookham is a wholesale seed distributor located in Caldwell, Idaho. Mrs. Gomez was an employee of Crookham for more than thirty years before her death. In early 2015, Crookham decided that a new picking table was necessary to sort seeds more efficiently. A Crookham employee fabricated the new table and it was installed in the company’s “Scancore” room in late 2015. Although OSHA had previously cited Crookham for violating machine guard safety standards and lockout-tagout protocol with its former picking tables, the new picking table’s drive shaft was not fully guarded and Crookham did not perform the required lockout-tagout procedures while employees cleaned the table. While working in the Scanscore room, Mrs. Gomez was under the picking table attempting to clean it when the table’s exposed drive shaft caught her hair and pulled her into the machine. She died as a result of her injuries. OSHA subsequently investigated Crookham and issued “serious” violations to the company because it exposed its employees to the unguarded drive shaft without implementing lockout-tagout procedures. The district court held that Mrs. Gomez was working in the scope of her employment at the time of the accident, that all of the Gomezes’ claims were barred by the exclusive remedy rule of Idaho worker’s compensation law, that the exception to the exclusive remedy rule provided by Idaho Code section 72-209(3) did not apply, and that the Gomezes’ product liability claims fail as a matter of law because Crookham is not a “manufacturer.” Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Gomez v. Crookham" on Justia Law

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In early June of 2007, Karrin Massey consumed at least one, but perhaps several, poultry pot pies that were manufactured by ConAgra Food, Inc. and sold under the Banquet brand name. Soon after, Karrin, who was six months pregnant at the time, developed salmonellosis. After an outbreak of salmonella was linked to Banquet pot pies, it was discovered that Karrin's strain of salmonella matched the strain of salmonella found in the contaminated pot pies. Karrin, her husband, Mark Massey, and their daughter Emma filed suit against ConAgra, alleging claims of product liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. The district court eventually granted ConAgra's motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the Masseys had failed to establish the pot pies in question were defective. The Masseys filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied. The Masseys then appealed to the Supreme Court. Upon review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court concluded the district court erred: (1) in determining that the Masseys failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact that the pot pies were defective; (2) in granting summary judgment on the issue of negligence; (3) in concluding the Masseys waived their right to challenge the district court's denial of their motion to reconsider; and (4) in finding that the Masseys' failure to warn claim was not adequately pleaded. The Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Massey v. Conagra Foods" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Billie Jo Major sued Security Equipment Corporation (SEC) alleging that the company failed to provide adequate warning to her employer, the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC), on the risks of its oleoresin capsicum pepper spray. Plaintiff alleged that the use of the spray in a training exercise worsened existing bronchial difficulties and caused her permanent injury. The district court granted partial summary judgment to SEC on the grounds that plaintiff failed to create a material issue of fact on whether her injuries were a known or foreseeable risk prior to March 2008 (the date of sale to IDOC). In a motion to reconsider, plaintiff submitted a second affidavit from her expert which was declared a sham affidavit by the district court in its denial of the motion. The district court later granted summary judgment to SEC on the sole remaining issue, the viability of plaintiff's claim under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA). Upon review, the Supreme Court disagreed with the district court, vacated its judgment, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Major v. Security Eq Corp" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a products liability action brought by Jesus Hurtado and John Reitsma, d/b/a J & J Calf Ranch (J & J), against Land O'Lakes, Inc. (Land O'Lakes). J & J alleged that the Land O'Lakes milk replacer it used to feed its dairy calves was defective and caused the death of more than one hundred calves. A jury found in favor of J & J and awarded damages. Land O'Lakes appealed, arguing that the district court improperly admitted expert testimony and that J & J failed to prove both liability and damages. Land O'Lakes petitioned the Supreme Court to vacate the judgment of the district court and enter judgment in its favor or, alternatively, to vacate the judgment and order a new trial. J & J cross-appealed the district court's award of attorney fees, arguing that the court abused its discretion by excluding fees incurred before and during previous litigation in this matter. J & J petitioned the Supreme Court to vacate the award of attorney fees and remand with instructions to include attorney fees accrued in the first trial in its calculation of reasonable attorney fees. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Land O'Lakes waived issues regarding expert testimony. The Court affirmed the jury verdict because it was supported by substantial competent evidence and affirmed the district court's award of attorney fees because it properly exercised its discretion. View "Jesus Hurtado v. Land O' Lakes, Inc." on Justia Law