Motion for Summary Judgment: An Arrow Back in the Defense’s Quiver?

By: Patricia J. Baxter and Nate R. Bohlander

Is the motion for summary judgment arrow back in the defense bar’s quiver for defect and failure to warn claims?  The Pennsylvania products liability law landscape has been in constant flux since the seminal Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc., 628 Pa. 296 (Pa. 2014) decision.  One of the starkest changes was the supposed death of the motion for summary judgment as an exit strategy. 

Supreme Court Affirms Denial and Reaffirms Burden of Proof for Employees

By: Duane Willis

In a case handled by B. Duane Willis of Morgan & Akins, Joseph Kolby Willis v. All Staff, 2017 Tenn. LEXIS 455 (August 7, 2017), the Tennessee Supreme Court Special Workers Compensation Panel affirmed the dismissal of a claim as not work related, and restated again the burden of proof the employee must carry when trying to prove causation on a claim.

Admissibility of Industry-Standards in Product Liability Cases Remains Uncertain

By: Patricia Baxter

Historically, to defend against a design defect claim the fact that a product’s design complied with industry standards was not admissible.  That type of evidence was viewed as focusing on the quality of the defendant’s conduct in making design choices, rather than the attributes of the product itself.  Morevoer, up until recently, a defendant’s conduct was not something that could be explored at trial in product liability cases.  However, in 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a ruling that fundamentally altered the landscape of product liability law in Pennsylvania, Tincher v. Omega Flex, 104 A.3d 328 (2014).  While Tincher resolved some questions (i.e. which Restatement would govern Pennsylvania product liability law and the tests associated therewith), it left many more unanswered including whether defendants could now introduce evidence that their products met industry standards, in order to prove their product was not defective.  As a practicing products attorney, this is often one of the first questions my clients ask, “My product complies with ANSI, so how can they argue it was defective?”

Supreme Court Panel Overturns Trial Court’s MIR Ruling

By: Jeffery G. Foster

In the recent decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court, Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel, Williams v. Ajax Turner Co., Tenn. LEXIS 204 (Apr. 12, 2017), Jeffery G. Foster and Benjamin J. Conley, attorneys with Morgan & Akins, PLLC, successfully argued an employer has the right to obtain an evaluation with a medical impairment registry (“MIR”) physician based on conflicting impairment ratings assigned by the employee’s treating physician and the employer’s independent physician.  The attorneys also succeeded in having the Supreme Court Panel overturn the lower court’s finding that the authorized physician rebutted the MIR physician’s impairment rating by clear and convincing evidence and, in so doing, reaffirm the standard for rebutting the statutory presumption of correctness afforded MIR physicians.

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