Articles Posted in Products Liability

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In a certified appeal, the issue this case presented for the New Mexico Supreme Court's consideration was whether the doctrine of fraudulent concealment applied to actions under the Wrongful Death Act (WDA), an issue of first impression in New Mexico. Alice Brice (Decedent) died in an automobile accident in 2006, when her 2002 Toyota Camry suddenly accelerated into a highway intersection, collided with a tractor-trailer, and burst into flames. The Estate of Alice C. Brice (Plaintiff) filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2010, asserting products liability and various other claims against the car manufacturer, the dealer, and others (Defendants). Because this wrongful death action was filed three years and eleven months from the date of Decedent’s death, Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants prevented Plaintiff from obtaining knowledge about the cause of action, that Defendants were aware of the sudden acceleration problem in its vehicles for most of the decade preceding 2010 and well before Decedent’s 2006 accident, and that Defendants fraudulently concealed these problems until February 2010 when the sudden acceleration problems drew public attention and led to congressional hearings. Plaintiff contended that it had no way to discover its wrongful death cause of action before February 2010. Plaintiff asserted therefore that after discovering its cause of action, it promptly filed its wrongful death suit on August 31, 2010. The district court granted Defendants' motion. After review, the New Mexico Supreme Court held that the doctrine of fraudulent concealment could apply to toll the statutory limitations period for a wrongful death claim if a defendant has fraudulently concealed a cause of action, thereby preventing that defendant from claiming the statute of limitations as a defense until the plaintiff learned or, through reasonable diligence, could have learned of the cause of action. Accordingly the Court reversed and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Estate of Brice v. Toyota Motor Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Kenneth Badilla bought a pair of work boots at Wal-Mart. He claimed the soles of the boots came unglued, causing him to trip and injure his back. More than three years later, he sued Wal-Mart and its store manager (Defendants) for breach of express and implied warranties. In his complaint plaintiff sought damages for personal injuries he claims were caused by the boots’ alleged failure to conform to their warranties. Defendants moved for summary judgment, which the district court granted on two grounds: (1) that Plaintiff’s complaint was time-barred by the application of the three-year statute of limitation for causes of action for torts; and (2) that there were no genuine issues of material fact to rebut plaintiff’s inability to establish the elements for breach of express and implied warranty. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on the statute of limitations issue, and because its determination on that issue was dispositive, it abstained from addressing the second basis upon which the district court granted summary judgment. Plaintiff sought review of the Court of Appeals’ decision by petition for writ of certiorari, asking this Court to determine whether his claims for personal injury damages resulting from breach of warranties were subject to the four-year limitation period set out in Section 55-2-725 or the three-year limitation period for tort actions found in Section 37-1-8. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the UCC’s four-year statute of limitation governed breach of warranty claims, including those seeking damages for personal injuries resulting from the breach. View "Badilla v. Wal-Mart Stores East Inc." on Justia Law