Category Archives: Evidence

Gavel

Industry Standard and Sole Negligence Defenses Can’t Fix a Defect


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Strict products liability cases have been the subject of much fluctuation in the Pennsylvania courts over the last few years. Utilizing hope created by the courts in recent strict liability cases, defendants have tried to revive defenses based on meeting industry standards and the plaintiff’s contributory negligence. Recently, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania tempered that hope with limitations of how far strict liability defenses can extend. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Comparative-Contributory Negligence, Evidence, Negligence, Pennsylvania, Products Liability and tagged , , .
Gavel

What the Jury Doesn’t Know about Insurance Won’t Hurt Them


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The issue of whether a jury will be less inclined to award an insurance company plaintiff – versus an individual person or entity – a favorable verdict is a real one for subrogation professionals facing a potential trial. In states where the laws allow carriers to choose between filing in their own name or in the name of the insured, there are numerous factors attorneys must weigh before finalizing the caption. However, if a jury is allowed to know the extent of the carrier’s involvement, the notion of filing in the name of the insured becomes less appealing. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Evidence, Massachusetts, Parties, Subrogation and tagged , , , , .
Product Fire

Arkansas Federal Court Denies Defendants’ Attempt to Exclude Evidence


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In Am. Nat’l Prop. & Cas. Co. v. Broan-Nutone, No. 5:18-CV-5250, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203267 (W.D. Ark.), a subrogating carrier filed a product liability lawsuit alleging that a defective bathroom fan caught fire and caused property damage. Prior to trial, the defendants/manufacturers filed motions to: (i) prevent the plaintiff’s experts from testifying for allegedly spoliating evidence; and (ii) prevent the admission of the fire marshal’s report as hearsay and/or as prejudicial, confusing and/or misleading. The court denied the defendants motions, thereby allowing all of the evidence to be presented by the subrogating carrier at trial. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Arkansas, Evidence, Spoliation and tagged , , , .
Product Fire

Eastern District of Pennsylvania Clarifies Standard for Imposing Spoliation Sanctions


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Courts are faced with the difficult task of drawing a line to determine when the failure to preserve evidence becomes culpable enough to permit a judicial remedy. In State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Cohen, No. 19-1947, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163681, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (District Court) made clear that a party is not entitled to a spoliation sanction without proof that the alleged spoliation was beyond accident or mere negligence. The District Court emphasized that when evidence goes missing or is destroyed, the party seeking a spoliation sanction must show that the alleged spoliation was intentional and that the alleged spoliator acted in “bad faith” before adverse inferences will be provided. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Evidence, Pennsylvania, Spoliation and tagged , , .
Gavel

Florida Adopts Daubert Standard for Expert Testimony


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Seven months ago, the Florida Supreme Court declined to adopt Daubert as the standard for admitting expert testimony in Florida state courts. In DeLisle v. Crane Co., 258 So. 3d 1219 (2018), the court reaffirmed that “Frye, not Daubert, is the appropriate test in Florida.” On May 23, 2019, however, Florida’s high court did an about-face. In In Re: Amendment to the Florida Evidence Code, No. SC19-107, the Florida Supreme Court overruled its decision in DeLisle and declared that Florida will now apply the Daubert standard to determine whether scientific evidence is admissible. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Evidence, Experts, Experts – Daubert, Florida and tagged , , .
Large Property Loss

Texas Walks the Line on When the Duty to Preserve Evidence at a Fire Scene Arises


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The extent to which a loss scene can be altered before adversaries can legitimately cry spoliation has long been a mysterious battleground in the world of subrogation. In the case of In re Xterra Constr., LLC, No. 10-16-00420-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 3927 (Tex. App. – Waco, May 15, 2019), the Court of Appeals of Texas, Tenth District, addressed the question of when a party has a duty to preserve evidence. The court found that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing sanctions on the defendants for the spoliation of evidence as the evidence at issue was already gone by the time the defendants knew or reasonably should have known there was a substantial chance a claim would be filed against them. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Evidence, Spoliation, Subrogation, Texas and tagged , , .
Fire

Fire Loss Subrogation Counsel and Origin and Cause Consultants Must Work Together in Responding to Opinion Admissibility Challenges


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Philadelphia Contributorship Ins. Co. a/s/o David Munz v. Ryan, Inc., 2019 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 62, involves a typical fire loss subrogation claim requiring expert testimony from an origin and cause consultant and a furnace consultant. The facts are straightforward. The Munz home lost heat. Munz called furnace service contractor Ryan, Inc. to check the system and make needed repairs. One month later, a fire originating in the furnace damaged the home. Munz’s insurer paid the first party claim and filed a subrogation action against Ryan, Inc. The underlying liability theory was that the Ryan, Inc. furnace technician should not have repaired the furnace and placed it back into service. Continue reading

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Pointing out a Problem

Minnesota “Fryes” the Difference Between Novel Scientific Theory and Novel Science


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In re 3M Bair Hugger Litig., 2019 Minn. App. LEXIS 11, the Minnesota Court of Appeals analyzed the applicable standard for determining whether or not expert opinion testimony based on a novel scientific theory is admissible. Using the Frye-Mack standard, the court reinforced that if an expert opinion involves a novel scientific theory, the underlying evidence used to formulate that theory must be generally accepted in the relevant scientific community. The court further articulated the standard by confirming that, pursuant to Minn. R. Evid. 702, the Frye-Mack applies to novel scientific theory, not novel science. Once the standard is deemed applicable, the court must find the novel scientific theory to be generally accepted in the scientific community to admit the expert’s testimony. Although 3M does not discuss subrogation matters, its analysis should apply with equal force to opinions offered by experts in subrogation cases. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Evidence, Experts – Daubert, Minnesota and tagged , .
Gavel

Florida Court of Appeals Holds Underlying Tort Case Must Resolve Before Third-Party Spoliation Action Can Be Litigated


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In Amerisure Ins. Co. v. Rodriguez, 43 Fla. L. Weekly 2225 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App., Sept. 26, 2018), the Third District Court of Appeals of Florida addressed whether a third-party spoliation claim should be litigated and tried at the same time as the plaintiff’s underlying tort case. The court held that since the third-party spoliation claim did not accrue until the underlying claim was resolved, the spoliation cause of action could not proceed until the plaintiff resolved his underlying claim. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Evidence, Florida, Spoliation and tagged , .
Pointing out a Problem

California Supreme Court Holds That Evidence of Industry Custom and Practice May Be Admissible in a Design Defect, Strict Product Liability Case


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In Kim v. Toyota Motor Corp., 6 Cal.5th 21 (Cal. 2018), the Supreme Court of California considered whether the trial court properly allowed the defendant to introduce evidence of industry custom and practice in defense of a strict product liability design defect case. The Supreme Court held that the evidence was relevant and admissible because it was introduced to address the feasibility and cost of alternative product designs, and not to show that the defendant acted reasonably. The court’s holding establishes that, while evidence of industry custom and practice is not admissible to prove or disprove fault in strict liability cases, it is admissible for other purposes, such as analyzing whether a product was defectively designed under the risk-benefit test. Continue reading

This entry was posted in California, Evidence, Products Liability and tagged , , .