In a recent article in The Legal Intelligencer, Laffey, Bucci & Kent founder Jeffrey Laffey examined the implications of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to take up Sullivan v. Werner Company. This appeal will address whether a trial court ruling barring jurors in a products liability case from hearing industry and governmental safety standards went against the high court’s Tincher v. Omega Flex decision in 2014. The Tincher decision established that juries in products liability cases must determine whether the subject product is unreasonably dangerous and defective, but did not explicitly address the admissibility of a manufacturer’s alleged compliance with standard industry protocols. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is now expected to provide clarity on the matter.
Laffey, who, along with attorney Stewart Ryan represented the plaintiffs in Sullivan v. Werner, explains that while counsel for the defendants argue that Tincher‘s principles support the admissibility of compliance evidence, “[c]ounsel for the plaintiffs counter that allowing such evidence would eviscerate products liability law’s true focus, which should be on the product at issue and moreover, it would undermine the social policy behind strict products liability in protecting consumers.”
Laffey describes how the Sullivan decision will have a major impact on the future of products liability cases: “In holding that compliance evidence is inadmissible, the Superior Court in Sullivan acknowledges the real possibility that the entire industry may be defective and thus, evidence that the product in question complied with industry standards is of no import.”
Read the full article here: The Significance of ‘Sullivan v. Werner’ in Strict Products Liability Post-‘Tincher’ (subscription required)