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Noce, Bauer, and Kellett Help Obtain Favorable Judgments from Missouri Court of Appeals on Innovator Liability Issue

On August 26, 2014, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern Division, affirmed the St. Louis County Circuit Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of three pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in two separate cases.  Gerard T. Noce, Partner in HeplerBroom LLC’s St. Louis office, Beth A. Bauer, Partner in HeplerBroom’s Edwardsville office, and M. Elizabeth Kellett, Associate in HeplerBroom’s Edwardsville office, along with other counsel, secured the win for HeplerBroom’s clients.

The cases presented two issues that are relevant to HeplerBroom’s clients.  First, whether, under Kentucky law, a manufacturer can be held liable for harm caused by a product it did not manufacture or sell.  Second, whether, under Kentucky law, a plaintiff may pursue non-product liability theories of negligence and fraud against a manufacturer as opposed to being limited to bringing claims under the Kentucky Products Liability Act (“KPLA”). 

The Court of Appeals held that, to succeed on a product liability claim under Kentucky law, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s product was the legal and factual cause of the harm.  Additionally, agreeing with the court in Smith v. Wyeth, Inc., 657 F.3d 420 (6th Cir. 2011), the Court of Appeals held that the KPLA applies to all damage claims arising from the use of products, regardless of the legal theory advanced.  Because HeplerBroom’s clients’ products were not the cause of plaintiff’s injuries, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment.        

The Missouri Court of Appeals’ opinions are available at http://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=77258 and http://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=77257


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