Recent Ruling Discusses Product Liability Claims Under Massachusetts Law

Defective products harm millions of people each year, causing serious injuries, and in some cases, death. Anyone harmed by a defective product can seek recourse via a civil lawsuit, and product manufacturers can be held liable for the damages caused by defective products under several different theories. Recently, the United States District for the District of Massachusetts discussed the grounds for pursuing product liability claims under the theory of design defect and failure to warn. If you suffered harm or the loss of a loved one because of a defective product, it is sensible to consult a capable Massachusetts product liability attorney to discuss your potential claims.

Facts and Procedural History

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent was operating a lathe manufactured by the defendant. He inserted a piece of metal into the lathe, and the bar stock of the lathe subsequently bent to a 90-degree angle and struck the decedent in the head. He suffered massive bleeding and was transported to the hospital. He underwent five surgeries but ultimately died from his injuries. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant asserting several claims, including breach of implied warranty. Following discovery, both parties filed motions for summary judgment, which the court denied in part and granted in part.

Product Liability Claims Under Massachusetts Law

Under Massachusetts law, a manufacturer that sells products impliedly warrants that his products are fit for the ordinary purpose for which such products are used, which is referred to as the implied warranty of merchantability. Thus, a manufacturer can be held liable under a theory of breach of implied warranty if a person is harmed by a product’s defective design or the manufacturer’s failure to warn.

A manufacturer may be liable for harm caused by a design defect if the manufacturer’s conscious design choices fail to anticipate any risks of ordinary use that are reasonably foreseeable. Thus, a manufacturer can be held liable for harm caused by a product even if the person harmed used the product negligently. The factors weighed in considering the adequacy of a design include the risk of danger of the design and the cost and feasibility of alternative designs. In the subject case, the court found that a sufficient issue of fact existed to preclude summary judgment on the defective design issue.

Similarly, the court found that summary judgment was precluded on the issue of failure to warn, due to a factual dispute. A manufacturer has the duty to warn a product’s users of dangers of which the manufacturer knows or should know. Here, the court found that a reasonable jury could find in favor of either party with regards to whether the lathe’s warning was sufficient. As such, the court denied summary judgment to either party.

Discuss Your Case with a Skillful Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one were harmed by a defective product, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what damages you may be able to pursue. The personal injury attorneys of the Law Office of James K. Meehan are adept at assisting parties harmed by defective products in the pursuit of damages, and we will work tirelessly to help you seek a favorable outcome. You can contact us via our form online or by calling 508-822-6600 to schedule a confidential and free meeting.