DRI members K. Justin Hutton and Elizabeth Hutton of the East Tennessee firm of Herndon, Coleman, Brading & McKee, LLP obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a vascular surgeon in Tanya M. Freeman vs. James R. Evans, M.D. in the Circuit Court of Washington County, Tennessee on November 23, 2021. The Plaintiff alleged that the physician breached the applicable standard of care by recommending a HeRO Graft for her permanent dialysis access, as she alleged she was not a proper candidate for the device. Further, she alleged that the physician breached the standard of care by placing the device in a vein that had not been properly studied by the manufacturer of the device. Last, she contended that the physician committed medical battery by failing to obtain proper informed consent prior to the surgical procedure. Unfortunately, approximately two (2) months after placement of the HeRO Graft, there was a catastrophic failure when the device broke in two, with a portion of the device migrating into the Plaintiff’s heart. She claimed she suffered extensive pulmonary embolisms and other injuries due to the physician’s actions. The defense asserted that the physician’s recommendations for use of the device and the location of device placement were appropriate and did not cause the catastrophic failure of the device. The physician also asserted that he obtained proper consent from the patient prior to the procedure.
After seven (7) days of trial, the jury returned a unanimous decision in favor of the physician on all counts.
Michael Correnti and Philip Kegler of McDonald Toole Wiggins PA in Orlando, Florida, and Quentin Urquhart and Kelly Brilleaux of Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC in New Orleans, Louisiana, won a summary judgment dismissal with prejudice for Crown Equipment Corporation in a suit brought by an operator of the RM6000, a forklift designed and manufactured by Crown.
On January 20, 2022, the Honorable Sarah S. Vance of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana granted final summary judgment in favor of Crown Equipment Corporation (Crown), a forklift manufacturer based in New Bremen, Ohio and dismissed Plaintiff’s lawsuit with prejudice.
Plaintiff Dawson Vallee had filed a product liability lawsuit under the Louisiana Products Liability Act (“LPLA”) arising out of a May 3, 2019 accident involving a Crown stand-up rider RM6000 lift truck at Republic National Distributing Center’s warehouse in Harahan, Louisiana.
Initially, the Court granted Crown’s Motion for Summary Judgment regarding Plaintiff’s claims for negligence and negligent maintenance and repair, holding that such claims were barred by the exclusivity provisions of the LPLA. As such, Plaintiff’s only remaining claim was based on defective design. Plaintiff claimed the forklift’s design was defective primarily based upon the open operator compartment. Plaintiff further alleged that alternative designs, including an operator compartment door and changes to the brake pedal design, would have made the design of the RM6000 reasonably safe.
Crown moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s design defect claims because Plaintiff’s experts failed to identify a specific alternative design for the RM6000 that could have prevented Plaintiff’ injuries. On January 20, 2022, the Court agreed with Crown and granted Crown’s Motion for Summary Judgment which resulted in Plaintiff’s case being dismissed with prejudice. In doing so, United States District Judge Sarah S. Vance issued a 30-page Order which ultimately found “[b]ecause plaintiff’s experts have failed to sufficiently identify a specific alternative design for the Crown RM6000 that could have prevented plaintiff’s injuries, he is unable to satisfy his burden under the LPLA.” As such, Plaintiff’s lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice.
The case is Dawson Vallee v. Crown Equipment Corp. of Ohio, et al., No. CV 20-1571, 2022 WL 179532 (E.D.La. Jan. 20, 2022).
Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore’s Summary Judgment Win Affirmed by U.S. Fifth Circuit
NEW ORLEANS, LA – The United States Fifth Circuit affirmed a summary judgment win obtained by Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC, dismissing all of Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants American Trucking & Transportation Insurance Company (ATTIC) and MVT Services, LLC (MVT), in a case involving alleged injuries following a tractor-trailer tire blowout. In its written reasons, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, including Judges Jones, Haynes, and Costa, held that Plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the tractor-trailer’s tire had a defect that presented an unreasonable risk of harm under Louisiana law. The Opinion was issued on February 17, 2022.
Lead counsel for ATTIC and MVT, Matt Bailey of Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore in Baton Rouge, LA, along with Kelly Brilleaux with the firm’s New Orleans office, prepared the Brief on behalf of the Appellees. Ultimately, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the ruling of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, adopting many of the arguments set forth in Appellees’ Brief.
In its Opinion, the Fifth Circuit held that Plaintiff failed to offer any admissible evidence regarding the tire’s failure or surrounding circumstances and, further, that even if she had raised such an issue of fact as to whether the tire was defective, she nonetheless also failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether MVT or the driver of the tractor trailer knew, or should have known, of any such defect. The Fifth Circuit also rejected Plaintiff’s argument that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applied to her claims, calling the theory “plainly inapposite” to the matter.
The case is Tyrea Arceneaux v. American Trucking & Transportation Insurance Company Risk Retention Group; MVT Services, L.L.C., d/b/a Mesila Valley Transportation, No. 21-30196 (5th Cir. 2/17/2022).
National Director Tony Sbarra, a shareholder at Hermes Netburn in Boston, MA and Mackenzie Brockmyre, a Hermes Netburn associate, recently obtained summary judgment for Western Star Truck Sales, Inc. in Taunton Superior Court. The case, N.E. Bridge Contractors, Inc. v. Aspen Aerials, Inc., et al., C.A. No.: 1873CV00708, involved product liability claims against the defendants stemming from a truck accident that occurred in 2018 in Alaska. Western Star assembled a cab and chassis which was purchase by the plaintiff, N.E. Bridge, who shipped it to Minnesota where the co-defendant, Aspen Aerials, installed a bridge inspecting crane on it. The fully assembled vehicle had been used without incident for bridge inspections throughout the country for approximately 30,000 miles before the accident. The vehicle was totaled, and N.E. Bridge claimed economic damages of over $1,500,000 as a consequence of the unit being unavailable to it for previously scheduled jobs. N.E. Bridge brought product liability claims against both Aspen Aerials and Western Star for negligent design, failure to warn and breach of express and implied warranties.
Inspection by the N.E. Bridge’s insurers following the accident determined that the steering of the struck malfunctioned due to the front suspension giving way, which was caused by Aspen Aerial’s improper torqueing of its suspension bolts. N.E. Bridge answered interrogatories propounded by Aspen Aerials and attributed fault for the accident solely to it. N.E. Bridge also retained engineer Craig Sylvester of Jensen Hughes, who confirmed that the accident resulted directly from Aspen Aerial’s improper installation of its bridge inspection crane. N.E. Bridge’s president, and corporate designee, testified that Western Star was not at fault for the accident. Western Star moved for summary judgment on this record, arguing that N.E. Bridge had offered no evidence, testimonial, expert or otherwise, to support its claims against it. N.E. Bridge opposed, arguing that Western Star negligently designed its cab and chassis in a manner that allowed Aspen Aerials to improperly install its bridge inspection crane and, further, that it failed to warn of the dangers of doing so.
The Court, Squires-Lee, J., agreed with Western Star that expert testimony was required, at the summary judgment stage, to support N.E. Bridge’s theories. The Court also agreed that Western Star was under no duty to warn either Aspen Aerials or N.E. Bridge because both were sophisticated users under Massachusetts law, but that Western Star had sufficiently warned despite the lack of a duty to do so. As a result, The Court granted the motion for summary judgment.
Jason Hendren and Ryan Blue of Hall Booth Smith, PC in Rogers, Arkansas recently defended a spinal discitis/paralysis case in Independence County, Arkansas. Plaintiffs alleged $10,000,000 in damages related to what they claimed to be misdiagnosis and mistreatment of spinal discitis and osteomyelitis that gradually resulted in the development of epidural and paraspinal abscesses and finally, paralysis. Specialists involved as expert witnesses included those practicing internal medicine, emergency medicine and neurosurgery. The trial lasted seven days with significant motion practice and a hearing during the intervening weekend. The jury voted 12-0 in favor of the defense after deliberations of less than two hours. Plaintiffs’ counsel confirmed shortly thereafter that no appeal would be filed. COVID-19 presented challenges during trial, but social distancing precautions were observed and fortunately no exposures or infections were reported.
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