Thursday, March 21, 2013

Judge Caputo of Middle District Reconsiders Products Liability Decision Under Restatement (Third)

In his recent decision in the Pennsylvania Federal Middle District case of Vaskas v. Kenworth, 3:10 CV-1024 (M.D.Pa. Jan. 3, 2013), Judge A. Richard Caputo followed the Third Circuit's prediction that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would adopt the Restatement (Third) of Torts analysis of products liability cases if squarely faced with the issue.

In so ruling, Judge Caputo granted summary judgment to the defendant on several claims arising out of an incident during which a truck driver allegedly fell from the steps of a tractor trailer.  In particular, the Court granted summary judgment on the strict liability design defect and strict liability failure to warn claims.  The negligence claims were allowed to proceed.

However, in a more recent decision in the same case, Judge Caputo addressed a Motion for Reconsideration filed by the defendants, who asserted that all of the claims should be dismissed under a Restatement (Third) analysis.  In its Brief, the defendant's argued that "[w]ith the adoption of the Third Restatement, strict liability and negligence are no longer two distinct legal theories, each potentially supporting recovery for a product-related injury." The defendant also asserted, "There is just one theory, and it requires proof of a defect."

In his Opinion and Order on the defendant's Motion for Reconsideration, Judge Caputo went further and granted summary judgment to Kenworth Truck Co. on the plaintiff's negligent design defect and negligent failure to warn claims.

Judge Caputo wrote, in part, as follows: "The court agrees with defendants that allowing plaintiffs to proceed to trial on negligent design defect and negligent failure to warn claims but not on strict liability design defect and strict liability failure to warn claims is inconsistent with the Restatement (Third)."  As such, Judge Caputo extended his entry of summary judgment to the plaintiff's negligent design and negligent failure to warn claims.

Copies of the five-page opinion in Vaskas v. Kenworth, PICS No. 13-0674, are available from The Legal Intelligencer. You can call the Pennsylvania Instant Case Service at 800-276-PICS to order for a small fee.

Source:  Article by Saranac Hale-Spencer entitled "Federal Judge Refits Case Against Kenworth to Restatement (Third).The Legal Intelligencer (March 21, 2013).

No comments:

Post a Comment