Florida Court Discusses Choice of Law in Product Liability Cases

When a dangerous product causes an injury, the injured person will often file a civil lawsuit seeking damages from the product manufacturer. Typically, the injured party and the manufacturer will reside in different states. Thus, the question of which state’s law applies will often have to be resolved by the courts. Recently, a Florida court addressed the issue of what state’s laws apply with regard to punitive damages claims in a product liability case filed against a Massachusetts company. If you were harmed by an unsafe product, you might be owed damages, and it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Florida product liability attorney to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent a procedure during which transvaginal mesh produced by the defendant was implanted to treat urinary incontinence. She then suffered severe side effects and filed a lawsuit as a product liability against the defendant in a district court in Florida. As part of her complaint, she sought punitive damages. Over a year into the litigation of the matter, the defendant filed a motion asking the court to govern the punitive damages claim under Massachusetts law. Ultimately, the court denied the motion.

Choice of Law Analysis in Product Liability Cases

The court explained that parties could stipulate to, or waive, the law that will govern claims or issues in a federal diversity case. In the subject case, the court noted that the defendant’s motion was untimely, as it was filed several months after the deadline for dispositive motions had passed. Additionally, it was not filed due to new facts, as the defendant possessed the information that formed the basis of its request since the onset of the case. Thus, the court denied the motion as untimely.

The court went on to state that even if the motion was filed in a timely manner, it would have nonetheless been denied. The court noted that the defendant adequately demonstrated that both Massachusetts and Florida had an interest in applying their laws and that there was a clash between the laws of each state, as required when a conflict of laws analysis is conducted. The defendant failed to show that Massachusetts had a more significant interest in the punitive damages claim than Florida, however, as needed to demonstrate that Massachusetts law should apply.

Specifically, the defendant failed to show that the relationship between the parties was centered in Massachusetts. Rather, it was centered in Florida, where the plaintiff resides and where the mesh was implanted. Further, Florida’s interest in the punitive damages claim was clear, as it used punitive damages to deter and punish companies that harmed its citizens. Thus, the defendant’s motion was denied.

Confer with a Seasoned Florida Attorney

Manufacturers who carelessly distribute harmful products should be held accountable for the injuries they cause. If you were hurt by a dangerous device, you should speak to a lawyer about your potential claims. The seasoned Florida product liability attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are proficient at helping those injured by unsafe products seek just results, and if you hire us, we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us via the form online or at 800-283-7442 to schedule a conference.

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