Product liability was the theme of this past month’s National Association of Subrogation Professionals Spring Conference. The conference, originally scheduled to take place in Nashville, Tennessee, was converted to a virtual conference.
RMI Attorney Dustin Smith, along with Mike Jacob, PE of Veritas Engineering presented a program on Cost-Effective Investigations of Product Liability Claims Involving Plumbing Products and Appliances.
RMI Attorney David Matejczyk, along with defense Attorney Tracy Knox of Barnes & Thornburg presented a program titled “Chess Match...What are They Thinking? Plaintiff and Defense Perspective on the Product Liability Loss.”
Product Liability Claims Involving Plumbing Products and Appliances
The presentation by Dustin Smith and Mike Jacob reviewed common water-based product failures in both the residential and commercial context. The presentation examined current trends and failure modes in brass fittings, polybutylene and cross-linked polyethylene hoses and other plumbing products.
The program also covered the fundamentals of a successful water loss investigation as it relates to applicable product liability theories, codes and industry standards. Essential data collection as to the scene, water pressure, appliance history, installation and maintenance issues were presented. Also discussed were cost management strategies based on the size of the claim and potential for recovery.
Chess Match….Plaintiff and Defense Perspective
For several years Attorneys Matejczyk and Knox have been on opposite sides of multiple product liability related cases. Attorney Knox is a well known product liability defense lawyer representing a large number of manufacturers.
The presentation involved a give and take between counsel as to plaintiff and defense strategies on product liability claims at each stage of a loss. The program was presented by way of a “chess match” with the plaintiff making the “initial move” and discussion of strategy. Conversely, defense counsel provided defense strategies employed through the process.
Issues involving notice, chain of distribution, foreign manufacturers, supplier liability, indemnity agreements and actions at the joint and forensic scene exam were presented. The program then moved to strategies and considerations in the litigation phase. Issues discussed included filing in state or federal court, removal, theories of liability and common defenses on product claims. Daubert challenges, and preventing Daubert challenges were discussed, along with testing requirements, discovery and motion practice.
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