Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Product liability claim vs negligence claim involving medical device


PRODUCT LIABILITY VS NEGLIGENCE (medical device) 

Normally, strict products liability and negligence are separate causes of action with different elements. Shaun T. Mian Corp. v. Hewlett-Packard, 237 S.W.3d 851, 857 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2007, pet. denied). However, here [PLAINTIFF] alleged no negligence other than conduct relating to whether the ventilator was unreasonably dangerous when sold. See id. As a result, [Plaintiff's] negligence theories are encompassed and subsumed in his defective product theories, and [Plaintiff's] burden at trial would be to prove injury resulting from a product defect. Id. Therefore, any error in disposing of [Plaintiff's] negligence claims cannot have caused the rendition of an improper judgment or prevented [PLAINTIFF] from properly presenting his case to this Court. See TEX. R. APP. P. 44.1(a); Hewlett-Packard, 237 S.W.3d at 857. [Plaintiff's] right to recover against Respironics stands or falls on the outcome of his products liability claims. Hewlett-Packard, 237 S.W.3d at 857. We thus affirm the trial court's judgment as to [Plaintiff's] negligence causes of action. Id.

STRICT LIABILITY 

Products liability imposes strict liability on the manufacturer of an unreasonably dangerous product that is a producing cause of a plaintiff's injuries. Id. The plaintiff must prove the product was defective when it left the hands of the manufacturer and that the defect was a producing cause of the plaintiff's injuries. Ford Motor Co. v. Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d 598, 600 (Tex. 2004); Hewlett-Packard, 237 S.W.3d at 858. A manufacturing defect exists when a product deviates, in its construction or quality, from the specifications or planned output in a manner that renders it unreasonably dangerous. Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d at 600; Hewlett-Packard, 237 S.W.3d at 858.

EXPERT TESTIMONY REQUIRED 

Generally, the requirements to prove a design defect in a products liability action necessitate competent expert testimony and objective proof that a defect caused the injury. See Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. v. Armstrong, 145 S.W.3d 131, 137 (Tex. 2004); Champion v. Great Dane Ltd. Partnership, 286 S.W.3d 533, 538 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2009, no pet.).

Here, [Plaintiff] failed to present expert testimony that the ventilator was defective when it left the hands of Respironics. See Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d at 600; Hewlett-Packard, 237 S.W.3d at 858.

Products liability theories 

Products liability theories: defective design, defective manufacturing, and defective marketing.

Products liability imposes strict liability on the manufacturer of an unreasonably dangerous product that is a producing cause of a plaintiff's injuries.  The plaintiff must prove the product was defective when it left the hands of the manufacturer and that the defect was a producing cause of the plaintiff's injuries. Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d at 600; Hewlett-Packard, 237 S.W.3d at 858. A manufacturing defect exists when a product deviates, in its construction or quality, from the specifications or planned output in a manner that renders it unreasonably dangerous. Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d at 600; Hewlett-Packard, 237 S.W.3d at 858. Generally, the requirements to prove a design defect in a products liability action necessitate competent expert testimony and objective proof that a defect caused the injury. See Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. v. Armstrong, 145 S.W.3d 131, 137 (Tex. 2004); Champion v. Great Dane Ltd. Partnership, 286 S.W.3d 533, 538 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2009, no pet.).

SOURCE: DALLAS COURT OF APPEALS - No. 05-11-01057-CV - 7/23/2014

See Ford Motor Co. v. Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d 598, 600 (Tex. 2004).