Author Archives: Sean T. Stadelman

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Overrules Azzarello But Declines Opportunity To Adopt Restatement Third of Torts

On November 19, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in  Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc. Having originally granted allowance of appeal to decide whether to replace the strict liability analysis of Section 402A of the Restatement Second, Pennsylvania’s highest court declined the opportunity and instead overruled  its 1978 ruling in Azzarello vs. Black Brothers, 391 A.2d 1020 (Pa. 1978). The four justice majority opinion (available here), written by Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, held that Pennsylvania will continue to apply the…

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Did Spoliation Contribute To $9 Billion Punitive Damages Award?

After a 12 week trial in a federal product liability case involving a prescription medication, the jury awarded the injured plaintiff $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $9 billion in punitive damages. The punitive damage verdict is reported by Austin Kirk to be the seventh largest in U.S. history. While the verdict is very likely to be appealed and similarly likely to be reduced, it does raise questions about what conduct caused the jury to react so strongly against the defendants. During the trial, U.S.…

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BP On the Hook for Bogus Settlement Claims Stemming From Gulf Oil Spill

In a recent decision, the Fifth Circuit determined that BP must continue to satisfy claims from the settlement fund established and agreed to following the Deepwater Horizon disaster a few years ago. In March 2012, BP entered into a multibillion dollar settlement to resolve tort claims comprising property damage, economic loss and medical claims. After entering into the agreement, BP found that potentially fraudulent claims were being submitted and paid out. As a result the company sought to amend the terms and require more upfront…

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West Virginia Chemical Spill Prompts Questions About Toxicity Of 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a webpage to provide the general public, and especially those affected by the chemical spill in West Virginia, information about the toxicity of MCHM. MCHM is a chemical used to process coal. MCHM is a type of organic alcohol with an odor similar to licorice according to the CDC. The CDC webpage notes that there is limited availability of data about MCHM and few studies on the specialized chemical exist, especially in humans. The…

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Distracted Driving Poses Risks Not Only For Those On The Road

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine highlights the risks associated with distracted driving and the differences in how adults and teenagers handle distractions differently. The study found that the risk of crash or near-crash among novice drivers (16.3-17 yrs. of age) increased significantly if they were dialing a cell phone, reaching for a cell phone, sending or receiving text messages, reaching for some other object, looking at a roadside object, or eating. The prevalence of distracted driving increased over time…

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Pennsylvania Employers Beware – Tort Claims for Asbestos Exposure May Be Coming Your Way

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an opinion recently that should have all employers (or at least those in Pennsylvania) considering what kind of exposure they may have from employees that develop asbestos-related disease outside of the 300-week period prescribed by the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA). The court in consolidated actions (See Tooey v. AK Steel Corp.) held that common law claims against an employer for an occupational disease resulting from asbestos exposure which manifests more than 300 weeks after the last occupational exposure are not…

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FDA Using Authority Under Food Safety Modernization Act To Control Dietary Supplements

On Wednesday, November 20, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a notice advising consumers that the product Slim Max should not be purchased or used. Slim Max, a weight loss product, was found to contain Sibutramine and Phenolphthalein, according to FDA laboratory analysis. Due to safety concerns, Sibutramine was removed from the market in October 2010. Sibutramine can substantially increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some users which may present a significant risk for patients with some medical conditions. Phenolphthalein is classified…

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Fighting Unnecessary E-Discovery Demands

A recent decision from a Pennsylvania trial court highlights the utility in fighting unreasonable discovery demands. In Brogan v. Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald LLP, the court denied a motion to compel electronic discovery, including metadata. Metadata is essentially embedded or hidden data about data. For example, an image may include metadata that describes when the image was created and a text document’s metadata may describe when the document was written and/or edited. More and more attorneys are becoming familiar with metadata and starting to include…

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It’s A Contract of Adhesion if You Need to Sign it in Order to Work?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently declined to hear an appeal from an $8 million jury verdict in favor of injured plaintiffs. An Allegheny County jury attributed liability to Consol Energy in a personal injury suit brought by two workers who were injured as a result of corroded bolts that failed and caused a metal staircase to collapse. One interesting part of this case was an agreement that one of the injured workers signed prior to the collapse. That agreement released Consol of all liability. The…

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HazCom 2012 – Get Ready

In 2012, OSHA revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to comport with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). OSHA is phasing in the specific requirements over several years in order to give companies time to comply with the revised requirements. New labeling elements and a standardized format for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs – previously known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)) are two important changes. The first compliance date is quickly approaching, December 1, 2013. On or before…

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