Thursday, June 20, 2024

Federal Court Rules that Plaintiff Must Plausibly Identify the Seller of the Product in the Complaint

In the case of McKnight v. Amazon.Com Inc., No. 23-1449 (E.D. Pa. May 14, 2024 Pratter, J.), the court granted in part and denied in part a Motion to Dismiss.

The case arose out of a claim that the Plaintiff allegedly suffered injuries from using a mole cream on his scalp.

The late Judge Pratter noted that, in reading the Plaintiff's Complaint, the Plaintiff purchased the mole removal cream from or, if not Amazon, then Wal-Mart, or Target, or eBay.  

In this products liability case, the court found that the Plaintiff could not validly allege that he bought the same item from four (4) different manufacturers.

The court found that the claims against the lead Defendant were barely plausible since the Complaint alleged that various Defendants delivered the product.

As to the other three (3) alleged sellers, the court found that no proper facts were pled. The court stated that an allegation of “more likely than not” is not an allegation of a fact.

The federal district court reaffirmed the rule of products liability cases that a Plaintiff must identify the maker of the allegedly defective product in the pleadings.  Any alternative pleadings must still meet the general plausibility standards.

This decision is also notable for the fact that the court ruled that Pennsylvania law does not recognize a duty to recall or retrofit products. As such, the recall-related allegations in the Complaint were stricken.

In this decision, the federal court also noted that there is no separate cause of action for recklessness under Pennsylvania law.  The Complaint included a claim of "Negligence and Recklessness."  The Court noted that there is no cause of action for Recklessness in and of itself under Pennsylvania law.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

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

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