Justia Florida Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Products Liability
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Marotta
Respondent, the representative for the estate of Phil Felice Marotta, filed an action as an Engle progeny plaintiff against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, an Engle defendant, asserting that Marotta’s addiction to Reynolds’ cigarettes caused his death by lung cancer. The jury found Reynolds liable on Respondent’s strict liability claim and awarded total compensatory damages of $6 million. Reynolds appealed the final judgment, and Marotta cross-appealed the trial court’s decision to preclude the jury from considering punitive damages on the product liability claim. The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed. The district court then certified a question to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered the rephrased question in the negative, holding that federal law does not implicitly preempt state law tort claims of strict liability and negligence by Engle progeny plaintiffs. The Court approved the Fourth District’s decision related to the preemption issue but quashed the decision below to the extent that it held that Respondent was precluded from seeking punitive damages. View "R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Marotta" on Justia Law
Aubin v. Union Carbide Corp.
After Plaintiff contracted peritoneal mesothelioma, he sued Union Carbide Corporation (Defendant), claiming that his disease was caused by his exposure to an asbestos product designed and manufactured by Defendant. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff, finding that Defendant was liable for Plaintiff’s damages, in part, under theories of negligence and strict liability defective design and failure to warn. The Third District Court of Appeal reversed. The Supreme Court quashed the Third District’s decision and remanded to the Third District with directions that the judgment be reinstated, holding (1) the Third District improperly applied the Restatement (Third) of Torts to Plaintiff’s strict liability defective design claim; and (2) the Third District improperly reversed the judgment for the failure to warn claim based on the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury on the learned intermediary defense. View "Aubin v. Union Carbide Corp." on Justia Law
Coba v. Tricam Indus., Inc.
The decedent in this case fell from a ladder, resulting in his death. Plaintiff sued the companies that manufactured and sold the ladder, alleging that Defendants were liable on the basis of strict liability and under negligence theories. The jury rendered a verdict finding Defendants liable. Neither party objected to the verdict. After the jury was discharged, Defendants moved to set aside the verdict, contending that the jury verdict was fundamentally inconsistent. The trial court denied the motion. The Third District Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the “fundamental nature” exception to the general rule that Defendants waived their challenges to the inconsistent verdict for failing to timely object applied in this case. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a party must timely object to an inconsistent verdict under these circumstances or the issue is waived; and (2) because Defendants failed to timely raise their objection to the jury’s inconsistent verdict, the trial court did not err in denying Defendants’ motion to set aside the verdict. View "Coba v. Tricam Indus., Inc." on Justia Law
Tiara Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Marsh & McLennan Cos.
Tiara Condominium Association (Tiara) retained Marsh & McLennan (Marsh) as its insurance broker. Marsh secured windstorm coverage through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens), which issued a policy that contained a loss limit in an amount close to $50 million. Tiara's condominium subsequently sustained damages caused by two hurricanes. After being assured by Marsh that the loss limits coverage was per occurrence, Tiara spent more than $100 million in remediation efforts. However, when Tiara sought payment from Citizens, Citizens claimed that the loss limit was $50 million in the aggregate, not per occurrence. Tiara filed suit against Marsh, alleging, inter alia, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment for Marsh on all claims. The appeals affirmed with the exception of the negligence and breach of fiduciary claims, as to which it certified a question to the Supreme Court to determine whether the economic loss rule prohibits recovery, or whether an insurance broker falls within the professional services exception that would allow Tiara to proceed with the claims. The Court answered by holding that the application of the economic loss rule is limited to products liability cases. View "Tiara Condo. Ass'n, Inc. v. Marsh & McLennan Cos. " on Justia Law