Justia Arkansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries
Articles Posted in Products Liability
Appellant's decedents were passengers in a 1979 Beechcraft Baron airplane when, in 2008, the left engine lost power and the plane crashed, killing all persons on board. Appellant filed suit on behalf of his decedents' estates, claiming wrongful death based on negligence and products liability. Appellant named as defendants the manufacturers of the airplane (Appellees), among others. Appellees moved for summary judgment on the grounds that Appellant's suit was barred by the eighteen-year statute of repose set forth in the General Aviation Revitalization Act (GARA). The circuit court granted summary judgment to Appellees, finding that Appellant's claims were barred by GARA and that neither the fraud exception nor the new-part rolling provision of GARA applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment to Appellees where (1) a genuine issue of material fact did not exist with respect to whether the fraud exception to GARA applied here; and (2) Appellant's allegations that the publication of an allegedly defective flight manual were insufficient to invoke GARA's new-part rolling provision as a matter of law. View "Tillman v. Raytheon Co." on Justia Law
Appellant and Appellee jointly petitioned the Supreme Court for rehearing following the dismissal of Appellant's appeal without prejudice due to lack of a final order. In the dismissal, the Supreme Court denied Appellee's motion to nonsuit her claims against another defendant because no order dismissing the defendant from the case was entered. In their petition, Petitioners contended that, pursuant to Ark. R. App. P.-Civ. 3, the order in the appeal was final because they abandoned any pending but unresolved claim in their notices of appeal and cross-appeal. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding (1) Rule 3 requires appellants and cross-appellants to abandon pending and unresolved claims, but it does not permit appellants and cross-appellants to dispose of parties in the same fashion; and (2) in this case, the voluntary nonsuit was effective only upon entry of court order dismissing the action. View "Ford Motor Co. v. Washington" on Justia Law
Defendant Ford Motor Company appealed from the judgment of the circuit court reflecting the jury's award of compensatory and punitive damages in favor of Plaintiff, individually and as administratrix of her husband's estate, and as parent and legal guardian of the couple's child. Plaintiff's action arose out of an automobile accident that killed her husband. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Ford, the manufacturer of the automobile the couple was driving, and Freeway Ford Lincoln Mercury, the dealer that sold the vehicle. At trial, Plaintiff moved to nonsuit her claims against Freeway. Although the circuit court granted the motion orally, no written order to that effect was in the record. Because no order dismissing Freeway from the case was entered, there was no final judgment as required by Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b). The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal without prejudice because the failure to comply with Rule 54(b) deprived the Court of subject-matter jurisdiction. View "Ford Motor Co. v. Washington" on Justia Law
In a pending negligence case in Philips County, the Circuit Court entered an order compelling Petitioner Cooper Tire & Rubber Company to fully and completely respond to the discovery requests made by the plaintiffs. The underlying case was a product's liability action, in which the Plaintiffs alleged the Company made defective tires that were ultimately responsible for the death of several people. The Plaintiffs made 467 specific requests for Company documents and materials. The Company alleged that many of the requested materials contained trade secrets or otherwise protected information. In all, Plaintiffs requested thousands of pages of materials that would cost the Company significant time and manpower to review, redact and produce to the Plaintiffs. The Company moved the Court to grant it time, or to limit the number of plaintiffsâ requests. The Court denied the Companyâs motions. The Company subsequently petitioned for a writ of certiorari, mandamus, prohibition, or other supervisory writ for relief from the Circuit Courtâs rulings. The Supreme Court granted the Company certiorari to review the case. On review, the Supreme Court found the Circuit Court âgrossly abused its discretion,â and vacated some of the Circuit Courtâs rulings pertaining to discovery deadlines and the production of Company materials.
Appellant Carol Conwayâs son Dennis Howard, was crushed to death in 2004 by an automated log-stacking machine while working at a Weyerhaeuser sawmill facility in North Carolina. Appellant filed suit against Appellee Hi-Tech Engineering, Inc. (HTE) alleging that the company had negligently and defectively designed, manufactured and marketed the log-stacking machine that killed her son. The trial court found that North Carolina law applied to the case, and the outcome would be determined by an analysis of North Carolinaâs âstatute of repose.â The parties cited different statutes of repose that they found in North Carolina law. Characterizing Appellantâs case as a âproducts liability action,â the court found that the applicable statute gives the defendant a âvested right not to be suedâ if the plaintiff fails to file a product liability action within a six-year period. Appellant relied heavily on the date and terms of the sales contract HTE held with the sawmill to determine when the six-year period started to trigger the statute. The court found that the date that HTE first sold the log-stacker was the controlling date. Appellant alleged the date the stacker was first accepted and used was the controlling date. The court entered summary judgment against Appellant because her claim was outside of the six-year period, and she appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. The Court agreed with the trial courtâs analysis of Appellantâs claim, and affirmed the lower courtâs grant of summary judgment to HTE.