Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Products Liability
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In this action to recover damages for personal injuries resulting from an allegedly defective product the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, holding that the amendment to the statute of repose in Number 17-97 of the 2017 Public Acts (P.A. 17-97) retroactively applied to Plaintiff's claims.On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the statute of repose applied to her product liability claims is unconstitutional because it creates two classes of claimants - employees subject to a ten-year statute of repose and nonemployees not subject to the statute of repose if the claimant shows the product was within its useful safe life when the injury occurred. While Defendants' motions for summary judgment were pending the legislature enacted P.A. 17-97, which combined the two classes of claimants by removing the limitation provision applicable to employees. The trial court concluded that P.A. 17-97 was not retroactive and applied the ten-year statute of repose to bar Plaintiff's claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the amendment to the statute of repose in P.A. 17-97 retroactively applied to Plaintiff's claims. The Court remanded to determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the injury occurred during the safe life of the product. View "King v. Volvo Excavators AB" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court for Plaintiff in this action brought pursuant to Connecticut’s Product Liability Act under strict liability and negligence theories, holding that Plaintiff failed to prove both that the product at issue was unreasonably dangerous and that it was a legal cause of the decedent’s fatal lung disease. In the complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the decedent was exposed to asbestos-containing products while working for Defendant and that Defendant’s actions in selling such asbestos-containing products constituted violations of the Act. After Plaintiff rested her case, Defendant moved for a directed verdict. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion as well as Defendant’s motion to set aside the verdict and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict following the jury’s verdict in Plaintiff’s favor. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was insufficient evidence to show that the product at issue was dangerous or that it was a legal cause of the decedent’s mesothelioma, and therefore, the trial court improperly denied Defendant’s motion for a directed verdict and motion to set aside the verdict and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. View "Bagley v. Adel Wiggins Group" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s Mazda3 sedan caught fire one month after Plaintiff purchased the vehicle. Plaintiff brought this product liability action against Mazda Motor of America, Inc. and Cartwright Auto, LLC, claiming that a defect in the car’s fuel system caused the fire that, in turn, caused Plaintiff to suffer injuries. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants on the basis that Plaintiff failed to produce competent expert testimony to support his claim of defect. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that he could prove his case based on an unspecified defect under the malfunction theory of products liability and without expert testimony. The Appellate Court affirmed, concluding (1) Plaintiff failed to raise the malfunction theory in the trial court and thus did not preserve it for appellate review; and (2) Plaintiff’s specific defect claims required expert testimony, and Plaintiff failed to produce this evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff did not properly preserve his malfunction theory of liability claim for appellate review, and therefore, the Appellate Court did not err in declining to review the malfunction theory claim on appeal. View "White v. Mazda Motor of Am., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought two separate actions alleging that Hazel Smart died as a result of a defective catheter used in her dialysis treatment at Greater Waterbury Gambro HealthCare. The trial court consolidated the two actions, which brought claims sounding in negligence, medical malpractice, loss of consortium, and products liability. During pretrial proceedings, the trial court imposed monetary sanctions on Plaintiffs for failure to comply with a discovery order. Plaintiffs appealed. The appellate court dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that the trial court's discovery order was not an appealable final judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate court properly dismissed the appeal, as the trial court's order did not constitute an appealable final judgment. View "Incardona v. Roer" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company, brought a product liability action against Defendant, Deere and Company, claiming that a lawn tractor manufactured by Defendant contained a manufacturing defect in its electrical system that caused a fire resulting in the destruction of the home of Plaintiff's insureds. Following a jury trial, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a plaintiff may base a product liability action on the "malfunction theory," which allows a jury to rely on circumstantial evidence to infer that a product that malfunctioned was defective at the time it left the manufacturer's or seller's control if the plaintiff establishes certain elements; and (2) the trial court erred in denying Defendant's motion for a directed verdict because Plaintiff's evidence in the present case was insufficient to establish its products liability claim. View "Metro. Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Deere & Co." on Justia Law