Massachusetts Court Discusses Establishing a Distributor’s Liability for a Defective Product

Under Massachusetts law, people harmed by defective medical devices can pursue product liability claims against the parties responsible for making and selling them. While proving the liability of the party that manufactured a defective product is relatively straightforward, establishing the fault of a party that merely distributed the defective device can be more challenging. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what a plaintiff alleging a defendant sold a defective product must demonstrate to establish negligence. If you suffered harm due to a dangerous device, you have the right to seek damages, and you should meet with a Cape Cod product liability attorney to discuss your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent a surgical replacement of his hip, which used a hip replacement system designed and produced by the defendant manufacturers and distributed by the defendant seller. He suffered heavy metal poisoning due to the device, which led to pain, bone loss, tissue damage, and other injuries and ultimately required surgical removal. He asserted numerous claims against the defendants in a civil lawsuit, including a negligence claim against the defendant seller. At issue was whether the claims against the defendant seller were sufficient.

Establishing a Distributor’s Liability for a Defective Product

Under Massachusetts law, to successfully establish negligence, a plaintiff must show via a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty, a departure from that duty, legal or proximate cause, and actual injury or harm. Here, the defendant manufacturers removed the case to federal court, arguing, in part, that the plaintiff had no chance of recovering on his claim against the defendant seller and, therefore, the court could exercise diversity jurisdiction over the claim.

Specifically, the defendant manufacturers argued that the plaintiff failed to adequately allege a duty or causation. The court disagreed and ultimately remanded the matter back to state court. The court explained that the plaintiff sufficiently alleged that the defendant seller knew or reasonably should have known of the safety issues with the hip replacement system but failed to warn anyone and continued to promote it over other products. In other words, they did not sell it passively but actively marketed it and trained people in its use. Thus, the court found that a finder of fact would reasonably conclude that the defendant seller breached a duty of care owed to the plaintiff. As such, the court rejected the defendant manufacturers’ argument.

Meet with an Experienced Cape Cod Attorney

Dangerous products can cause severe and lasting harm, and entities that sell harmful devices should be held accountable. If you suffered injuries due to a dangerous product, you should speak to a lawyer about your rights. The experienced product liability lawyers of The Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, are skilled at handling the complexities of cases arising out of harm caused by defective products, and if you hire us, we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at 888-262-6664 to set up a meeting.

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