Author Archives: Ryan M. Frierott

490282474

District Court Grants Smoke Alarm Manufacturer’s Motion for Summary Judgment Due to Speculative Product Identification Evidence

On April 27, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a defendant manufacturer’s motion for summary judgment in a personal injury lawsuit based in products liability. In Paniagua v. Walter Kidde Portable Equip., Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56154, the plaintiff brought claims of strict products liability, breach of warranty, violations of the New York Uniform Commercial Code, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress arising out of a 2005 fire in his New York City…

Continue Reading....

New Hampshire District Court Permits Parties’ Experts to Testify in Case Involving Allegation that a Recalled Grill Caused a Fire

The District Court for the District of New Hampshire recently denied motions to exclude the testimony of both the plaintiff homeowner and defendant grill manufacturer’s experts regarding the origin and cause of a fire. In Pukt v. Nexgrill Industries, Inc. (2016 U.S. Dist. Lexis 54108), the homeowner’s son cooked on a 7-year-old “Charmglow” grill and, as soon as he was through, the grill caught fire and subsequently ignited the deck it was situated on and adjoining house causing extensive damage. The Consumer Product Safety Commission…

Continue Reading....

Advances in Fire Science Helps Overturn 1980 Arson and Murder Convictions

A New York Judge recently overturned the arson and felony murder convictions of three men accused of setting a February 7, 1980 fire in a three-story residential building that killed a woman and her five children. The three men were convicted after the building’s owner offered eyewitness testimony implicating them and a local fire marshal presented an analysis at trial that pointed to arson as the cause of the fire. Significantly, the fire marshal supported his fire cause opinion with evidence that the fire originated…

Continue Reading....
iStock_000069845951_Double

Spoliation: A Derivative Claim — Illinois Appellate Court Creates a High Standard

Plaintiffs are increasingly using destroyed, lost, or altered evidence to bring spoliation of evidence claims in product liability actions. In Illinois, a plaintiff can make a spoliation claim if it is tied to an underlying negligence action. Although spoliation claims are meant to address evidentiary issues, Illinois does not recognize them as an independent tort. Accordingly, a spoliation claim does not have its own statute of limitations and instead is based upon the underlying claim in the lawsuit. On October 7, 2015, the Illinois Appellate…

Continue Reading....
iStock_000001627771_Large

Fire Investigators’ Product Defect Opinion Stifled by Federal Court

The United States District Court for the District of Kansas recently addressed the qualifications of a fire investigator to offer testimony concerning the existence of a causal defect in a combine. In the subject case (Case No. 14-1183-JTM), a fire destroyed a John Deere S670 manufactured by the defendant and insured by plaintiff. The plaintiff filed suit alleging that the combine contained a defect that caused the fire. In support of its theory, the plaintiff proffered the expert testimony of a certified fire and explosion…

Continue Reading....
Fire Disaster in Warehouse

Reliance on Unreliable Opinions Puts Fire Investigators’ Origin Theories on Ice

The Texas Supreme Court recently held that a trial court did not abuse its discretion by disregarding the testimony of two fire investigators who relied on the unreliable opinions of other witnesses to provide a complete factual foundation for their origin theories. In Gharda USA, Inc. et al. v. Control Solutions, Inc. et al., Cause No 12-0987, the plaintiffs filed suit alleging that a chemical manufactured and sold by the defendants contained a manufacturing defect that led to a warehouse fire and over $8…

Continue Reading....

Court Turns Down The Heat On Requirements For Ignition Scenario Testing

A federal court in Wisconsin recently addressed what constitutes acceptable conditions for ignition scenario testing in fire cases. In Smithfield Foods, Inc. et al. v. United States, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134523 (E.D. Wis., September 23, 2014), the plaintiffs filed suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act alleging that a pork processing facility was destroyed by a fire ignited by a M125 military flare stolen by a member of the United States Marine Corps. The plaintiffs claimed that the United…

Continue Reading....

Insurance Compnay Gets Burned For Unsupported Arson Allegation

A Superior Court Judge sent a costly message to Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company after it declined to pay a policyholder for losses suffered in a residential fire based on its own findings that the fire was intentionally set. The fire occurred on February 26, 2009, in Pomfret, Connecticut. Local fire officials determined that the fire was accidental and likely caused by faulty wiring. Travelers, however, claimed that its insured poured kerosene in the home and ignited it.

Continue Reading....