Justia Massachusetts Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Products Liability
Dunn v. Genzyme Corp.
In this case involving claims of personal injury and product liability against the manufacturer of a medical device the Supreme Judicial Court reversed the decision of the superior court judge denying the manufacturer's motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiffs asserting parallel state law claims may do so with no greater degree of specificity than otherwise required under Iannacchino v. Ford Motor Co., 451 Mass. 623, 636 (2008).Plaintiff sued Genzyme Corporation, asserting that Synvisc-One, a class III medical device subject to premarket approval under the Medical Device Amendments (MDA), 21 U.S.C. 360c et seq., was negligently manufactured, designed, distributed, and sold by Genzyme. Genzyme filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the allegations were preempted by federal regulation. The trial judge denied the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that while all of Plaintiff's state law claims properly paralleled the federal requirements, none of them was sufficiently pleaded under Iannacchino to survive Genzyme's motion to dismiss. View "Dunn v. Genzyme Corp." on Justia Law
Am Int’l Ins. Co. v. Robert Seuffer GmbH & Co. KG
Plaintiff-insurance company filed suit against Defendant-manufacturer, alleging various theories of products liability. Defendant raised the defense of a lack of personal jurisdiction in its answer but did not file a motion to dismiss the case on that basis. Twelve months after filing its answer to the complaint, during which time Defendant pursued litigation on the merits, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment based on the defense of a lack of personal jurisdiction. The superior court denied Defendant’s motion, concluding (1) the court lacked personal jurisdiction over Defendant, but Defendant waived this defense by litigating the merits of the case and thereby submitting to the jurisdiction of the court; and (2) genuine issues of material fact existed as to the merits, which precluded the entry of summary judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) where a party raises the defense of lack of personal jurisdiction in a responsive pleading, the party’s subsequent conduct may, in some circumstances, result in a forfeiture of that defense; and (2) the superior court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for summary judgment in this case.View "Am Int’l Ins. Co. v. Robert Seuffer GmbH & Co. KG" on Justia Law
Aleo v. SLB Toys USA, Inc.
In 2006, while visiting relatives in Andover, 29-year-old Aleo attempted to use an inflatable swimming pool slide that had been imported and sold by Toys R Us. She slid down head first; when she reached the bottom of the slide, it collapsed, and her head struck the concrete deck of the swimming pool through the fabric of the slide. Robin's upper two cervical vertebrae fractured, resulting in quadriplegia. She died the following day, after her family, in accordance with her wishes, withdrew life support. Her estate sued, alleging negligence, breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, wrongful death, and violation of G.L. c. 93A. A jury found Toys R Us liable for negligence, breach of warranty, and wrongful death, awarding compensatory damages of $2,640,000 and punitive damages of $18 million. Under G.L. c. 229, punitive damages available for gross negligence in wrongful death action. The Massachusetts Supreme Court affirmed, finding that Toys R Us exhibited a “substantial degree of reprehensibility.” The court rejected challenges to pretrial rulings, the sufficiency of the evidence, and the constitutionality of the $18 million award of punitive damages. View "Aleo v. SLB Toys USA, Inc." on Justia Law