Monday, September 13, 2010

SC Supreme Court Issues Substitute Opinion in Watson v. Ford

Today, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a substitute opinion in the Watson v. Ford Motor Co. case. The re-filed opinion can be found here (first opinion) and here.

I previously briefed this case at this post, so I plan to update it once I have had a chance to digest this re-filed opinion. The re-filed opinion appears to deal with the same issues that were in the first opinion (admission of testimony of two experts and admission of prior incidents). However, it also deals with Ford's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and holds that the trial court erred in denying Ford's motion.

Be sure to check out footnote 4 where the court talks about its recent adoption of the Restatement (Third) approach to design defect cases. Informative footnote? Or more playing footsy with adopting the Restatement (Third) of Products Liability? You decide.

Check back for further analysis of this re-filed opinion.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Palmetto RIMS Speaking Engagement This Week

On Wednesday of this week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Palmetto Chapter of the Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc. This is a great group of folks involved in insurance and risk management, and I appreciate them giving me the opportunity to meet them, eat lunch, and speak for about 30 minutes on "South Carolina Products Liability Law." I spoke about the nuts and bolts of South Carolina's products law, including the three elements common to all products claims, the economic loss doctrine, some case studies, and the future of this area of the law. Thanks folks for your hospitality!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New SC Products Liability Case: Holst v. KCI Konecranes International Corporation

Yesterday, the South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in Holst v. KCI Konecranes International Corporation, Opinion Number 4736 (Sept. 9, 2010), which can be found here. I have not yet read it in its entirety, but the case involved a man's death when he was crushed under some containers that were being stacked by a crane. The plaintiff alleged that the crane was defective because of visibility limitations from the crane's cab.

At the circuit level, KCI filed a motion for summary judgment on grounds that there were no genuine issues of material facts as to the claimed defective and unreasonably dangerous condition of the crane. KCI asserted asserted additional grounds for summary judgment including comparative negligence and assumption of the risk. In addition to visibility limitations, Holst proposed mounting a closed-circuit video camera on the edge of the crane's trolley as a feasible design alternative to increase the operator's visibility. Holst also argued KCI failed to warn crane users about the crane's sight limitations. The circuit court granted summary judgment, and determined Holst's defective design and failure to warn claims failed as a matter of law.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, and a quick reading indicates that the Court focused on the failure of plaintiff's experts to incorporate the risk-utility test into their analysis. There is also discussion of industry standards, the fault analysis in a negligence theory, and plaintiff's warnings claim. I will try an get a brief up in the next few days, but this looks like an interesting case.

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