Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Chief Judge Brann of Federal Middle District Court Addresses Variety of Products Liability Issues

In the case of Goodling v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 4:21-CV-00082 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 10, 2022 Brann, C.J.), the court granted in part and denied in part a Motion to Dismiss in a medical device strict liability and negligence claim reagarding pelvic mesh product.

The court found that, although the Plaintiffs’ Complaint provided comparatively little information about the medical procedure and the injuries at issue, the allegations were found to provide adequate notice of the claims and supporting facts and could not be dismissed as an alleged shotgun pleading.

Notably, Judge Brann also ruled that Pennsylvania law did not require an application of the Restatement of Torts (Second) §402A, comment k, across the board to bar strict liability claims against medical devices. 

Chief Judge Matthew W. Brann
M.D. Pa.

Judge Brann noted that Pennsylvania Superior court precedent barring such claims has been undermined by other decisions. Judge Brann felt that comment k applied to medical devices only on a case-by-case basis.

While the court found that the Plaintiff’s strict liability allegations involving a design defects and with respect to warnings were adequately pled, the court dismissed the strict liability manufacturing defect claim because there was no allegation made that the device deviated in some unique way from its intended design.

Judge Brann additionally dismissed the Plaintiff’s negligent misrepresentation and fraud claims as duplicative of the Plaintiffs’ warning claims.

The court also noted that the claim of unjust enrichment did not apply in products liability claims where the Plaintiff actually received and used the product. 

Elsewhere in his decision, Judge Brann also confirmed the rule of law that punitive damages are not to be considered a separate cause of action, but rather, an element of damages.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this notable decision by Chief Judge Brann of the Federal Middle District Court of Pennsylvania may click this LINK.  The Court's companion Order can be viewed HERE

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck from the Philadelphia office of the Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

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