Massachusetts Court Discusses Sufficiency of Pleadings in Product Liability Cases

It is not uncommon for doctors to use products like mesh or artificial joints when operating on patients. While these products should be safe, they often are not, and their defects can lead to significant injuries. People hurt by dangerous products can often recover damages from the manufacturers that developed them, though, via product liability lawsuits. In a recent Massachusetts opinion, a court explained the minimum factual allegations needed to permit a plaintiff to pursue product liability claims against a manufacturer in a case involving surgical mesh. If you were hurt by a defective product, it is advisable to meet with a skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent a surgical procedure during which a mesh patch manufactured by the defendant was implanted in him. Over time, the patch migrated and deteriorated and perforated the plaintiff’s large intestine. The plaintiff then developed sigmoid diverticulitis and an abscess and infection. He then filed a product liability lawsuit against the defendant, alleging claims of breach of implied and express warranties, negligence, and strict liability failure to warn. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit for failure to state a claim for which relief could be granted. The court ultimately granted the motion in part and denied it in part.

Factual Allegations Sufficient to Sustain Product Liability Claims

In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must treat all well-pleaded facts as correct and draw any reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. In order to withstand a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must set forth factual allegations sufficient to state a claim for relief that, on its face, is plausible.

A claim is facially plausible if it contains factual content that permits the court to draw reasonable inferences that the defendant should be held accountable for the wrongs alleged. Assessing plausibility requires the court to draw on its common sense and judicial experience. Legal conclusions, rote recitation of the elements of a claim, and labels are inadequate to raise a claim above the level of speculation. In other words, the court should presume that all well-pleaded facts are true and then evaluate whether such facts assert a plausible claim for relief.

Based on the foregoing, the court found that the plaintiff failed to state a claim for breach of express warranty and the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, and the negligent failure to warn. Thus, those claims were dismissed, and the plaintiff was permitted to proceed on negligent design and breach of the implied warranty of merchantability claims.

Speak to a Skilled Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney

Manufacturers that negligently distribute unsafe medical products should be held liable for any harm people suffer as a result. If you are hurt by a dangerous product, you could be owed damages and should speak to a lawyer. Personal injury attorney James K. Meehan possesses the knowledge and experience needed to help people hurt by defective devices recover damages. If our firm represents you, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us through the online form or at 508-822-6600 to set up a meeting.