Firm News Feedhttp://www.rumberger.com/?t=39&format=xml&anc=218&directive=0&stylesheet=rss&records=10&p=4149en-us23 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800firmwisehttp://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rssDaubert Under the Microscope Again by Florida Courtshttp://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=63741&format=xml&p=4149In a ruling that raises new issues about the adoption of the <em>Daubert</em> standard for the admissibility of expert opinions in Florida state court, the Florida Supreme Court has declined to adopt, to the extent they are procedural, the 2013 legislative changes the Florida Evidence Code that put the <em>Daubert</em> standard into effect. In Re: Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, No. SC16-181, February 16, 2017. Although the recent decision does not address the ultimate constitutionality of the <em>Daubert </em>Amendment, it will create confusion in the state courts until further clarity is provided. <br /> <br /> The <em>Daubert </em>Amendment, which went into effect in July 2013, dropped the older<em> Frye </em>standard in favor of the more rigorous <em>Daubert </em>standard for admissibility of expert testimony. In declining to adopt the <em>Daubert</em> Amendment to the extent that it is procedural, the Supreme Court&rsquo;s ruling cites constitutional concerns that adopting<em> Daubert</em> would impede access to the courts and undermine the right to a jury trial. Justice Polston, in a strongly worded dissent, disputes these concerns and notes that federal courts and a clear majority of states have long adhered to <em>Daubert </em>without any such constitutional concerns. The ruling does not reach the constitutionality of the <em>Daubert </em>Amendment, or resolve the extent to which the Amendment is substantive or procedural in nature.<br /> <br /> The procedural versus substantive distinction is critical to the analysis and livelihood of <em>Daubert</em> as a matter of Florida law going forward. To the extent that the <em>Daubert </em>Amendment is construed as strictly procedural in nature (i.e. not impacting rights, obligations, causes of actions, etc.), then the Supreme Court ruled the Florida Legislature overstepped its bounds and enacted an unconstitutional law on a matter within the province of the Court. Whether the<em> Daubert</em> Amendment is unconstitutional as a matter of substance&mdash;meaning it is entirely unconstitutional&mdash;is left to be determined. The Court&rsquo;s ruling did not address this issue. Not until an actual case and controversy is before the Florida Supreme Court can that discrete and seminal issue be decided. Until then, the<em> Daubert </em>Amendment in the Florida Evidence Code remains a valid and binding law. However, the recent ruling is a clear indication that the Court, as currently comprised, is likely to find the Daubert Amendment unconstitutional when presented with the issue in an appropriate case.<br /> <br /> These unresolved issues will certainly create great confusion in state courts. In fact, anecdotal evidence confirms that many judges in South Florida have already refused to hear <em>Daubert </em>challenges until further clarity is provided. The recent ruling will inevitably create procedural delay until the courts put in place some definitive position or action in this regard. Plaintiff&rsquo;s attorneys will likely seek to continue or stay any Daubert challenges pending a ruling on the substance of the statute. Also likely are expert depositions or other discovery that is more prolonged due to emphasis on both <em>Frye</em> and <em>Daubert</em> until the dilemma is resolved. <br /> <br /> Alternatively, plaintiff&rsquo;s attorneys will be on the hunt to tee up a case for appeal before the Florida Supreme Court on this issue. Opponents of the <em>Daubert </em>standard may be motivated to quickly find a case to get the merits of the Daubert Amendment before the Florida Supreme Court. Three of the four Justices concurring in the recent decision&mdash;Pariente, Lewis and Quince&mdash;are due for mandatory retirement on January 8, 2019, the same day as Governor Rick Scott&rsquo;s last day in office. Governor Scott has said he plans to make three replacement appointments on that day. Any such appointees may have a more favorable view of <em>Daubert</em> than the outgoing Justices. <br /> <br /> To view the full opinion click here:&nbsp; <a href="http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2017/sc16-181.pdf">http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2017/sc16-181.pdf</a><br /> <br />Products Liability Blog17 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=63741&format=xml&p=4149Defense Verdict for Harley-Davidsonhttp://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=62635&format=xml&p=4149Skip Eubanks of Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell and Mark Kircher of Quarles &amp; Brady won a defense verdict on behalf of Harley-Davidson on January 19, 2017 in a product liability case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division. The claims against Harley-Davidson related to Harley-Davidson offer of anti-lock brakes (ABS) as optional as opposed to standard equipment on some of its models including the 2012 Electra Glide Classic. In June 2012, Plaintiff Mark Jones purchased a 2012 Electra Glide Classic from Paris Harley-Davidson in Paris, Texas and did not purchase the optional ABS. A little more than a year later, while Mr. Jones was riding the bike with his wife Pamela Jones as a passenger, a Chevrolet Avalanche made a left turn across their path of travel and into Wal-Mart. There was no collision. Mr. Jones, who had no formal motorcycle training, over applied his brakes causing the bike to skid and ultimately capsize resulting in broken bones and head injuries to both riders. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Jones were wearing helmets.<br /> <br /> Mr. and Mrs. Jones filed suit alleging that the 2012 Electra Glide Classic was defective and unreasonably dangerous because it did not have ABS as a standard feature and because Harley-Davidson did not provide adequate descriptions of the benefits of ABS, that H-D was negligent for selling a defective bike without ABS and for failing to warn customers of the benefits of ABS. Plaintiffs alleged that Harley-Davidson&rsquo;s own documents show that ABS is &ldquo;safer&rdquo; and also alleged that studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and other researchers provided data that demonstrated some safety benefits of ABS; therefore, the state of the art required that ABS should have been standard on Harley-Davidson touring models by 2009 and on all Harley-Davidson models by 2012.<br /> <br /> Harley-Davidson denied all the allegations and presented evidence that the 2012 Electra Glide Classic foundation brakes were not defective without ABS, but rather were extremely capable. Harley-Davidson also presented evidence of its efforts in promoting ABS to its customers, and in proliferating ABS as both optional and standard throughout its product portfolio of motorcycles. There was proof that the motorcycle complied with FMVSS 122 which governs motorcycle braking systems and did not mandate ABS at the time the motorcycle was manufactured and does not mandate ABS to this day. Harley-Davidson presented evidence that the vast majority of the motorcycles on the road in 2012 (~91%) did not have ABS, and that H-D&rsquo;s conduct was reasonable and, in fact, extremely responsible through its ABS promotion and proliferation. There was compelling evidence that a significant segment of Harley-Davidson's customers did not wish to have ABS on their motorcycles for various reasons including: customization, strict maintenance requirements, and a desire not to have the increased complexity of a computer controlled braking system.<br /> <br /> This case was one that challenged Harley-Davidson's fundamental values of American Freedom. Harley-Davidson's mission statement is &ldquo;We Fulfill Dreams of Personal Freedom&rdquo; and this lawsuit attacked those values. Harley-Davidson defended these values and the rights of its customers to make their own decisions as to what features are important to them.<br /> <br /> The case went to the jury at 10:30 a.m. and the jury returned a complete defense verdict at 12:30.Products Liability Blog19 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0800http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=62635&format=xml&p=4149Autonomous Safety Technologies: Lowering the Bar for the Alert and Safe Driver.http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=60104&format=xml&p=4149In 2013, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a &lsquo;Preliminary Statement of Policy Concerning Automated Vehicles&rsquo; (the &ldquo;Policy&rdquo;). The Policy includes a classifications system partitioning vehicle automation into five levels, ranging from level 0 (&ldquo;no automation&rdquo;) to level 4 (&ldquo;full self-driving automation&rdquo;). Although most liability debates among legal scholars focus on the horizon of level 4 - &ldquo;full self-driving&rdquo; vehicles and who is liable when those vehicles are involved in an accident; the vehicles in levels 1 and 2 present the most immediate concerns from a product liability perspective. For jurisdictions with pure comparative fault standards (such as Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico), vehicles with level 1 and 2 automation could serve as the catalyst for a switch from pure comparative fault to either a standard of modified comparative fault or contributory fault.<br /> <br /> Many commercials by automobile manufacturers now highlight the autonomous safety features of their vehicles. These commercials usually involve a driver in a new vehicle who is distracted either by a passenger, an outside event, or simply is not paying attention to the road. Inevitably, an unexpected hazard presents itself and the driver, who is not paying attention, does not have enough time to react. But, instead of a significant collision with either a vehicle, animal, pedestrian, or crash test wall, the new vehicle senses the hazard and applies the brakes avoiding an accident. Most of these commercials end with the driver relieved he or she was not involved in an accident. <br /> <br /> Situations such as these have become more common over the last several years with automotive manufacturers introducing autonomous technologies in an effort to push innovation and raise safety standards. However, the predominant concern is whether these autonomous systems foster negligence and inattentiveness on the part of the human driver. These commercials can underscore negligence from many different parties, most importantly of which is the distracted driver in the new vehicle. The message is that, were it not for the autonomous safety technologies, the result would have been a significant collision. <br /> <br /> In May of 2016, a man was killed in Florida while driving his Tesla Model S, equipped with Autopilot. The accident occurred &ldquo;when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither the Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brakes were not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.&rdquo; It is not immediately known if Autopilot is predicated upon lighting conditions while driving, but Tesla has previously stated that Autopilot uses a &ldquo;unique combination of cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors and data to automatically steer down the highway, change lanes, and adjust speed in response to traffic.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> The NHTSA is leading an investigation into Tesla&rsquo;s Autopilot feature, yet some immediately apparent concerns are worth addressing. First, Tesla&rsquo;s &ldquo;Autopilot&rdquo;, which also uses a feature called &ldquo;Autosteer,&rdquo; has a misleading name because while the term suggests autonomy, the vehicle is only equipped with Level 2 automation technology, which still requires the driver to monitor the roadway for safe operation. Tesla&rsquo;s literature is exceptionally clear that a driver operating Autopilot and Autosteer is &ldquo;to remain engaged and aware when Autosteer is enabled.&rdquo; Second, it is entirely possible that the driver became too comfortable with the technological capabilities of the vehicle to his own detriment. Following the accident, the Associated Press reported that the driver of the tractor trailer heard Harry Potter playing in the Model S even after the crash. The driver of the Model S also frequently took videos while driving to show the vehicle&rsquo;s capabilities. This even resulted in a YouTube video, taken only a month before the fatal accident, in which the driver claimed the Model S saved his life by avoiding a significant collision when entering a highway. <br /> <br /> The Tesla Model S example brings front and center all of the tensions at play with autonomous technology efforts. Autonomous safety systems are designed to augment and assist the ordinarily presumed alert and safe driver. Yet, a given plaintiff will inevitably file a lawsuit against an automotive manufacturer alleging a design defect in failing to install one or more of these autonomous safety technologies, such as adaptive cruise control, lane centering, blind spot warning, forward collision warning, and emergency braking. However, autonomous safety technologies are distinctly different because they attempt to mitigate the potential of a collision by safeguarding against a driver&rsquo;s negligence, and circumstances which the driver may not otherwise perceive. Previous safety advancements such as airbags, safety glass, the collapsible steering column, and even seat belts (if used), reduce the risk of injury regardless of any negligence. <br /> <br /> Autonomous technologies in levels 1 and 2 specifically seek authority of one or more primary functions of the automobile. The driver is responsible for safe operation of the vehicle, but as more of these systems are installed and integrated with one another, friction will develop within the courts between the driver&rsquo;s responsibility for safe operation of the vehicle, and a manufacturer&rsquo;s responsibility to provide these autonomous systems. If the general public begins to see these systems as necessary, then manufacturers should be aware that prospective jurors will enter with such preconceptions. Counsel for the defense should be aware of this possibility and use voir dire to develop as much information as possible to assess the venire&rsquo;s feelings on such issues. Voir dire should also be used to educate and reinforce the responsibilities of a driver. The interplay of technology and the capabilities of autonomous safety systems will undoubtedly cut across many lines, and could easily affect defense themes of the case, as well as personal accountability and generational gaps.<br /> <br /> For states with pure comparative fault standards, a manufacturer could be held proportionately liable for failing to provide a system that inherently protects against a driver&rsquo;s negligence. After all, in bringing a claim of this nature a plaintiff is stating &ldquo;had [technology system] been installed on the vehicle, I would not have had an accident.&rdquo; This mentality could open the door for every automobile accident to give rise to a products liability lawsuit. <br /> <br /> Additionally, a more difficult claim will be raised when a vehicle is equipped with these autonomous safety technologies, but the accident still occurs. In that case, a court is immediately presented with a causation issue. The central battle would be whose failure caused the accident &ndash; the distracted inattentive driver, the computer system that did not react in time, or is there a third party that bears the lion&rsquo;s share of liability? <br /> <br /> The challenge for the defense in these suits will be two-fold. First, the defense must prevent the jury from becoming enamored with the new technological capabilities of the manufacturer&rsquo;s autonomous safety systems. This could put defense counsel in an awkward position as they may be inclined to downplay the safety accomplishments of their client. The defense should look to manage the expectations of the jury from the perspective of technology by properly explaining the autonomous safety systems. Jurors may be awestruck by the capabilities alone of an autonomous safety system, and overlook the negligence of a driver. The preferred tactic focuses on the limitations of the technology safety systems, and how they are most effective when used by an attentive driver. <br /> <br /> Second, the defense should highlight the negligence of the driver, because claims of this nature contain an open admission of negligence. This will require a careful balancing act because the defense must present the jury with evidence of negligence, but not alienate the jury by tearing down the injured plaintiff. A defense should consider focusing on the primary functions a driver cedes control of when relying on these autonomous safety technologies. As more of these systems are used and incorporated with one another, the driver increasingly relinquishes more attention and responsibility in operating the motor vehicle, thereby increasing his or her level of fault. Depending on the technology which is the subject of a plaintiff&rsquo;s claim, a manufacturer could significantly diminish or even completely negate any proportionate fault. Warnings will also be of great importance for the manufacturers. If a manufacturer has properly warned a driver about the limitations of autonomous safety systems, a driver may be less inclined to file a lawsuit. Manufacturers may need to program pop-up warnings into the autonomous systems when they are engaged to remind and reinforce the proper use of the safety systems. <br /> <br /> Finally, and perhaps most challenging, will be a defense&rsquo;s ability to account for the relative experience of a driver. Meaning, new and young drivers present as plaintiffs who presumably has only operated a vehicle with the assistance of autonomous safety technologies. As juries become more familiar with and dependent upon autonomous safety technologies, they will begin to assume the necessity of such systems and could ignore the negligence of a driver in a given accident. Accordingly, a manufacturer could see its proportion of fault increase over time regardless of how negligent a driver was in causing an accident. <br /> <br /> If this does in fact happen, manufacturers will likely petition states with pure comparative fault principles to adopt a policy of either modified comparative fault, which limits liability when a driver is 50% or more negligent; or, adopt a policy of contributory fault, which prohibits a plaintiff&rsquo;s recovery if the plaintiff is even 1% responsible in causing an accident. For jurisdictions with pure comparative fault, a switch to modified comparative fault is more plausible and probably more palatable for legislators. Modified comparative fault also provides both manufacturers and legislators greater freedom in crafting legislation which holds a manufacturer liable, but not for those situations when a driver is clearly negligent in causing an accident or injury, and seeks redress from the manufacturer for failing to indemnify the driver for his or her own negligence. <br /> <br /> As more level 1 and level 2 vehicles are produced, these accidents and scenarios will become more prevalent. Manufacturers should be aware that the increased marketability of autonomous safety technologies will open up their liability to lawsuits in failing to provide these technologies as standard equipment. Regardless of the level of automation of a vehicle, it remains the driver&rsquo;s responsibility to safely operate the vehicle. After all, the driver is the one licensed, not the vehicle.<br /> <br /> <br /> JOHN VILLASENOR, PRODUCTS LIABILITY AND DRIVERLESS CARS: ISSUES AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR LEGISLATION, 6 (Brookings Institute, April 24, 2014)<br /> Level 0: No-Automation <br /> The driver is in complete and sole control of the primary vehicle controls (brake, steering, throttle, and motive power) at all times, and is solely responsible for monitoring the roadway and for safe operation of all vehicle controls. Vehicles that have certain driver support/convenience systems but do not have control authority over steering, braking, or throttle would still be considered &ldquo;level 0&rdquo; vehicles. Examples include systems that provide only warnings (e.g., forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring) as well as systems providing automated secondary controls such as wipers, headlights, turn signals, hazard lights, etc.<br /> <br /> Level 1: Function-specific Automation<br /> Automation at this level involves one or more specific control functions; if multiple functions are automated, they operate independently from each other. The driver has overall control, and is solely responsible for safe operation, but can choose to cede limited authority over a primary control (as in adaptive cruise control), the vehicle can automatically assume limited authority over a primary control to aid the driver in certain normal driving or crash-imminent situation (e.g., dynamic brake support in emergencies)&hellip;The vehicle&rsquo;s automated system may assist or augment the driver in operation of one of the primary controls&hellip;As a result, there is no combination of vehicle control systems working in unison that enables the driver to be disengaged from physically operating the vehicle by having his or her hands off the steering wheel AND feet off the pedals at the same time. Examples of function specific automation systems include: cruise control, automatic braking, and lane keeping. <br /> <br /> Level 2: Combined Function Automation<br /> [A]utomation of at least two primary control functions designed to work in unison to relieve the driver of control of those functions. Vehicles at this level of automation can utilize shared authority when the driver cedes active primary control in certain limited driving situations. The driver is still responsible for monitoring the roadway and safe operation and is expected to be available for control at all times and on short notice. The system can relinquish control with no advance warning and the driver must be ready to control the vehicle safely. An example of combined functions enabling a Level two system is adaptive cruise control in combination with lane centering. <br /> <br /> Level 3: Limited Self-Driving Automation<br /> Vehicles at this level of automation enable the driver to cede full control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic or environmental conditions and in those conditions to rely heavily on the vehicle to monitor for changes in those conditions requiring transition back to driver control. The driver is expected to be available for occasional control, but with sufficiently comfortable transition time. The vehicle is designed to ensure safe operation during the automated driving mode. An example would be an automated or self-driving car that can determine when the system is no longer able to support automation, such as from an oncoming construction area, and then signals to the driver to reengage in the driving task, providing the driver with an appropriate amount of transition time to safely regain manual control. The major distinction between level 2 and level 3 is that at level 3, the vehicle is designed so that the driver is not expected to constantly monitor the roadway while driving. <br /> <br /> Level 4: Full Self-Driving Automation<br /> The vehicle is designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip. Such a design anticipates that the driver will provide destination or navigation input, but is not expected to be available for control at any time during the trip. This includes both occupied and unoccupied vehicles. By design, safe operation rests solely on the automated vehicle system. <br /> <br /> The insurance industry is also facing significant questions with respect to driverless vehicles. See JAMES F. PELTZ, SELF-DRIVING CARS COULD FLIP THE AUTO INSURANCE INDUSTRY ON ITS HEAD, Los Angeles Times (June 20, 2016), http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-agenda-driverless-insurance-20160620-snap-story.html. <br /> JOHN VILLASENOR, PRODUCTS LIABILITY AND DRIVERLESS CARS: ISSUES AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR LEGISLATION, 5 &ndash; 6, n.18 (Brookings Institute, April 24, 2014) (noting Volvo&rsquo;s City Safety system can automatically apply the brake to avoid or reduce the severity of a collision; Mercedes-Benz&rsquo;s Distronic Plus system uses radar sensors to scan traffic ahead and the PRE-SAFE brake feature automatically initiates up to 40 percent braking power, audibly alerts the driver, and can engage 100% of the brake in the event the driver doesn&rsquo;t respond serving as an electronic crumple zone. The Highway Loss Data Institute has already credited the Distronic Plus system with a 14 percent reduction in property damage liability claim frequency). Lexus currently advertises the Driver Attention Monitor, which detects if the driver is not looking forward and will signal an alert if objects are ahead. <br /> The Tesla Team, A Tragic Loss, TESLA BLOG (June 30, 2016), https://www.teslamotors.com/blog/tragic-loss.<br /> Tesla, Model S Software Version 7.0, https://www.teslamotors.com/presskit/autopilot.<br /> Tesla, Model S (July 1, 2016), https://www.teslamotors.com/models.<br /> Tesla, Model S Software Version 7.0, https://www.teslamotors.com/presskit/autopilot.<br /> Joan Lowy and Tom Kirsher, Tesla driver killed in crash while using car&rsquo;s &lsquo;Autopilot&rsquo;, AP: THE BIG STORY (JUNE 30, 2016, 10:27 PM), http://bigstory.ap.org/article/e00bf3a4dd8d4b8083f6dd66856d9faf/tesla-driver-killed-crash-while-using-cars-autopilot.<br /> Autopilot Saves Model S, YOUTUBE (April 5, 2016), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9I5rraWJq6E.<br /> <br />Products Liability Blog18 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0800http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=60104&format=xml&p=4149Why The Florida Supreme Court Shouldn't Undo Dauberthttp://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=58117&format=xml&p=4149Originally published by Law360, New York (July 15, 2016, 10:55 AM ET) -- <br /> <br /> Three years after Gov. Rick Scott signed into law amendments to Florida Statute Sections 90.702 and 90.704, modernizing Florida to a Daubert jurisdiction and abandoning the archaic Frye standard, there remains a looming state of unsteadiness. Since July 1, 2013 (the enactment date of the Daubert<em> </em>amendment), there have been countless Daubert<em> </em>challenges, hearings, trial court orders, appeals, appellate opinions, articles, continuing legal education seminars, meetings and votes of the Florida Board of Governors, and debates all having to do with <em>Daubert</em> as a matter of Florida law. Will Daubert<em> </em>remain or will Florida revert back to Frye?<br /> <br /> It is undisputed that Florida lawyers and judges have been &mdash; and will continue until further notice &mdash; applying Daubert. A noteworthy body of Daubert<em> </em>jurisprudence as a matter of Florida law has been etched out. It began with <em>Conley v. State, </em>in which the First District reversed and remanded for a new trial, instructing the lower court to determine the admissibility of certain evidence under <em>Daubert</em>. 129 So. 3d 1120, 1121 (Fla. 1st DCA Dec. 20, 2013). Then in 2014 the Third District expounded upon a thorough comparative analysis of the Frye and Daubert standards in Perez. See <em>Perez v. Bellsouth Telecommunications, </em>138 So.3d 492, 497-99 (Fla. 3d DCA Apr. 23, 2014). The First District continued to pave the way in developing Florida&rsquo;s<em> </em>Daubert<em> </em>jurisprudence. See <em>Baan v. Columbia County, </em>180 So.3d 1127, 1132-34 (Fla. 1st DCA Dec. 8, 2015)(concluding expert testimony constituted ipse dixit or an unproven statement);<em> Perry v. City of St. Petersburg,</em> 171 So.3d 224, 225 (Fla. 1st DCA Aug. 7, 2015)(applying <em>Daubert </em>to worker&rsquo;s compensation proceedings); <em>Booker v. Sumter County Sherriff&rsquo;s Office/North America Risk Services,</em> 166 So. 3d 189, 193-94 (Fla. 1st DCA May 29, 2015)(highlighting the timeliness requirements for<em> Daubert </em>challenges); <em>Giaimo v. Fla. Autosport Inc., </em>154 So.3d 385, 387-89 (Fla. 1st DCA Nov. 26, 2014)(emphasizing the abolition of pure opinion testimony under the Daubert amendment). The Fifth District also joined the fray and determined mental health opinion testimony should be examined under Daubert<em>.</em> See Andrews v. State, 181 So. 3d 526, 527-29 (Fla. 5th DCA Oct. 30, 2015)(finding the proposed opinion testimony at issue satisfactory). Most recently, the Fourth District held the Daubert amendment applied retrospectively and was procedural in nature. See Bunin v. Matrixx Initiatives Inc., 4D14-3579, (Fla. 4th DCA June 1, 2016).<br /> <br /> There have also been significant and noteworthy trial court orders addressing Daubert. For example, a circuit court judge in Duval County entirely excluded a boating expert in a product liability case for failing to do any testing and advancing entirely unreliable opinions. <em>See Sullivan v. BRP U.S. Inc.,</em> Case No. 16-2013-CA-569-XXXX, (Fla. Cir. Ct. July 2, 2015) (Duval County). Similarly, a Miami-Dade County circuit court judge entirely excluded an addiction expert in a tobacco litigation matter. See <em>Wendel v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co</em>, Case No. 10-54813 CA (15) (Fla. Cir. Ct. Apr. 1, 2014)(finding the expert was unqualified to opine on nicotine addiction and the expert utilized an entirely unreliable methodology). A Hillsborough County circuit court judge was one of the first judges in Florida to address the retroactivity of the Daubert amendment, the constitutionality of the amendment under a separation of powers challenge and whether the amendment was procedural or substantive. See <em>Gross v. Plantation Key Association</em>, Case No. 06-CA-005879 (Fla. Cir. Ct. Sept. 13, 2013).<br /> <br /> The aforementioned efforts may all end up being in vain. There are serious efforts to have Daubert rejected. By way of background, the Florida Supreme Court has the ultimate authority in adopting a given evidentiary standard as a matter of Florida law. The Supreme Court has not yet spoken on or addressed this issue. Hence, the present state of affairs and uncertainty about which expert standard will govern in Florida. The Florida Bar&rsquo;s Code of Rules and Evidence Committee submitted a Three Year Cycle Report proposing that Sections 90.702 and 90.704 not be adopted as Rules of Evidence to the extent they are deemed procedural. The Florida Board of Governors approved the report by a wide margin of a vote. On Feb. 1, 2016, the Florida Board of Governors submitted the report to the Florida Supreme Court, recommending that the Daubert amendments be rejected. The Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for and against Daubert on Sept. 1, 2016.<br /> <br /> It would seem impractical, inefficient and nonsensical for the Supreme Court to declare the last three years of Daubert litigation and jurisprudence &ldquo;as a matter of Florida law&rdquo; nothing more than an exercise in futility. One would hope that the system of checks, balances and communications between the legislature and the judiciary are more carefully circumscribed and calibrated than to allow for such a preposterous result. In any event, a determinative outcome will soon bring the tension and uncertainty to a definitive end for better or for worse.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br />Products Liability Blog15 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0800http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=58117&format=xml&p=4149Eleventh Circuit's Opinion Increases the Burden on Those Seeking Class Certificationhttp://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=52822&format=xml&p=4149<h2>Brown is a &quot;defense favorable&quot; opinion that should be heavily relied upon when challenging class actions.</h2> <br /> The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recent opinion in <em>Brown v. Electrolux Home Products</em>, 2016 WL 1085517 (11th Cir. Mar. 21, 2016), just elevated the bar for parties seeking class action certification in the Eleventh Circuit.&nbsp; In <em>Brown</em>, the Court reversed a district court&rsquo;s order granting class certification for violations of California and Texas consumer protection acts and breach of warranty claims. <br /> <br /> <span id="__fakeFCKRemove__" style="display: none;">fakeFCKRemove</span>In doing so, the Court held: <ol> <li>the district court articulated the incorrect standard for adjudicating a motion for class certification;&nbsp;</li> <li>the &quot;causation&quot; element of consumer protection claims required individual, not common, proof;&nbsp;</li> <li>the district court could not evaluate predominance for the breach of warranty claims without first answering preliminary questions of state law. The Court vacated the class certification for the consumer claims, and remanded the warranty claims back to the district court to resolve the preliminary questions of state law.</li> </ol> The Court's opinion will have far-reaching consequences as it effectively overrules a large body of federal case law that favors plaintiffs and class certification by eliminating from the class-certification analysis the principal that plaintiffs' allegations in a complaint are accepted as true and doubts are resolved in favor of class certification. Further, the ruling requires a much stricter application of existing prerequisites in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.<br /> <font face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><strong><br /> The District Court Misstated the Standard for Evaluation of a Motion for Class Certification</strong>.<br /> <br /> The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court relied on the incorrect standard for evaluating class certification.&nbsp; In reversing the district court, the Eleventh Circuit identified two misstatements of law.&nbsp; First, the district court stated that doubts related to class certification are resolved &quot;in favor of the certifying class.&quot;&nbsp; Second, the district court stated all allegations in the complaint are &quot;accepted as true&quot; and that the Court &quot;draws all inferences and presents all evidence in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs.&quot; <br /> <br /> Regarding the first misstatement, the Eleventh Circuit, citing to recent Supreme Court of the United States case law,&nbsp; held that &quot;all else being equal, the presumption is against class certification because class actions are an exception to our constitutional tradition of individual litigation.&quot;&nbsp; As to the second misstatement, the Eleventh Circuit stressed that plaintiffs have the burden of proof, not pleading and must affirmatively demonstrate compliance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 23.&nbsp;&nbsp; Although a court cannot evaluate the merits of a claim, where questions of law or fact relevant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 exist, the court has a duty to answer those questions. <br /> <br /> The Eleventh Circuit did not conduct a harmless error analysis of the district court&rsquo;s misstatements because the Court was &quot;going to remand anyway.&quot;&nbsp;&nbsp; This may cause some readers to overlook this portion of the opinion; however, this holding may have the most far-reaching consequences of all of the opinion because the standards articulated by the Court are contrary to standards utilized by federal courts throughout the country. <br /> <br /> <strong>The District Court Erred in Finding Plaintiffs Could Prove Causation on a Class wide Basis for the Violations of California and Texas Consumer Protection Acts.<br /> </strong><br /> The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion in finding that Plaintiffs&rsquo; consumer protection claims satisfied the predominance requirement of Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 23(b)(3).&nbsp; The district court held that the consumer protection claims had common questions of law and fact and were, therefore, susceptible to class-wide proof.&nbsp; The Eleventh Circuit, however, reversed finding that claims were inappropriate for class certification because the California class was not exposed to a uniform misrepresentation and the Texas class needed to prove actual reliance on misrepresentations.&nbsp; As a result, the Eleventh Circuit held both classes could not prove causation on a class-wide basis and vacated the district court&rsquo;s order granting class certification.&nbsp; In doing so, the Eleventh Circuit emphasized the district court&rsquo;s obligation to evaluate the elements of a claim and predict how plaintiffs will prove their claims at trial.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> <strong>The District Court's Certification of the Breach of Warranty Claims was Premature Because the District Court Failed to Resolve Preliminary Questions of State Law Related to Predominance. <br /> </strong><br /> Lastly, the Eleventh Circuit held that the lower court erred in certifying the breach of warranty claims because the district court failed to first resolve preliminary questions of state law bearing on the predominance requirement of Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 23(b)(3).&nbsp; Specifically, the district court failed to determine whether California and Texas law require pre-suit notice, an opportunity to cure, and manifestation of the defect.&nbsp; The district court recognized these questions of state law as &quot;common issues to the class.&quot;&nbsp; However, the district court&rsquo;s analysis fell short when it failed to determine whether these questions would be answered by individual or common proof.&nbsp; Notably, the Eleventh Circuit stated it expressed no view on the answers to the preliminary questions of state law and whether the answers to those questions would defeat predominance, but stated the district court&rsquo;s analysis of Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 23(b)(3) required answers to these questions.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> In practice, the Eleventh Circuit's opinion in <em>Brown </em>increases the burden on those seeking class certification three ways.&nbsp; First, the Court has eliminated any advantage previously afforded to Plaintiffs alleging class certification and articulated a stricter standard.&nbsp; Second, <em>Brown </em>mandated district courts conduct a rigorous analysis of the elements of a claim and determine whether those elements may be proven by individual or common proof.&nbsp; Although the &quot;rigorous analysis&quot; requirement existed prior to <em>Brown</em>, courts within the Eleventh Circuit will without a doubt be taking a much closer look at claims being submitted for class certification.&nbsp; Lastly, <em>Brown</em> requires district courts to answer all preliminary questions of state law relevant to the predominance requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b) prior to approving class certification.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />Products Liability Blog25 Apr 2016 00:00:00 -0800http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=52822&format=xml&p=4149Coordinating Discovery in Mass Tort Litigationhttp://www.rumberger.com/90F6E0/assets/files/News/Coordinating Discovery in Mass Tort Litigation.pdf&format=xml&p=4149In mass tort litigation, such as personal injury suits arising out of airline crashes or product recalls, the sheer volume of individual suits can present significant challenges for defendants in efficiently responding to duplicative and overlapping discovery. Defendants may be faced with responding to overlapping written discovery and depositions in numerous separate lawsuits involving separate sets of attorneys. The options to address these issues depend on whether the case is pending in federal or state court. Federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) procedure enables effective consolidation and coordination of related cases. Florida allows consolidation within a judicial circuit, but state court procedures lack a similar mechanism for coordination of related litigation throughout the state.<br /> <br /> While each lawsuit arising out of a mass tort presents certain individualized issues, the lawsuits also involve common issues. For example, in product liability litigation, written discovery to the defendants on issues such as the design and manufacture of the product at issue and communications with regulators will be duplicative across cases. Similarly, depositions of the manufacturer defendants&rsquo; fact and corporate representative witnesses will address the same or overlapping issues in each case. Coordination of these types of overlapping discovery among individual cases makes the litigation more efficient for the parties and the judicial system. <br /> <br /> Federal MDL procedure addresses this situation and allows for consolidation and coordination of discovery and other pretrial proceedings in related federal litigation throughout the country. MDLs are authorized under federal statute providing that: &ldquo;when civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact are pending in different districts, such actions may be transferred to any district of coordination or consolidated pretrial procedures.&rdquo; 28 U.S.C. &sect; 1407(a). The goals of the MDL process are &ldquo;to avoid duplication of discovery, to prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, and to conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), a panel of seven sitting federal judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States, is authorized to create MDLs upon application by a party. See <a href="http://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/panel-info/overview-panel. ">http://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/panel-info/overview-panel</a> and Rules of Procedure of the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. Once an MDL has been created, a party can seek transfer of an individual case to the MDL by filing a &ldquo;tag along&rdquo; notice with the JPML. Regardless of where the MDL is established, cases from any federal court in the country can be transferred to the MDL. <br /> <br /> The presiding judge in an MDL establishes discovery and other pretrial deadlines applicable to all cases within the MDL. The MDL court also appoints a Plaintiff&rsquo;s Steering Committee and a Defendant&rsquo;s Steering Committee to coordinate the litigation. The parties will work to streamline written discovery and production of documents. For example, rather than producing documents separately to each plaintiff, the defendants will produce documents uniformly for use by all plaintiffs and subject to a single protective order applicable to all parties in the MDL. In addition, the court may appoint a special master to address discovery matters such as coordination and scheduling of depositions. The parties will arrange for a single set of depositions of the defendants&rsquo; witnesses, with the testimony available for use in all cases within the MDL. <br /> <br /> Florida state court procedure also allows for consolidation of related cases for discovery and other purposes. Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.270 provides that: &ldquo;When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it may order all the actions consolidated; and it may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.&rdquo; Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.270(a). However, there is no Florida state court equivalent to the JPML to oversee consolidation of related cases. <br /> <br /> Moreover, in contrast to federal MDL procedure, consolidation under Rule 1.270(a) has been limited to cases pending within the same judicial circuit. The rule is broad in permitting consolidation for trial only, discovery only, or for all purposes, but Florida courts have applied it to permit consolidation of cases only within the same judicial circuit. These decisions note that, under the rule, actions &ldquo;pending before the court&rdquo; may be consolidated, and conclude that this phrase refers to cases pending within the same jurisdiction. See Wetherington v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 661 So. 2d 1276, 1277 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995) (ruling that a case pending in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit could not be consolidated with a case pending in the Eight Judicial Circuit; stating in part that &ldquo;the trial court was without authority to exercise any jurisdiction over the case pending in the Eighth Judicial Circuit&rdquo;); Y.H. v. F.L.H., 784 So. 2d 565, 568 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001) (same). <br /> <br /> As a practical matter, then, coordination of discovery in mass tort litigation pending in different Florida state courts, not within the same judicial circuit, may depend largely on negotiation among the parties. This stands in contrast to federal MDL procedures which allow for consolidation and coordination of related federal cases throughout the country, regardless of where the cases originate. <br />Products Liability Blog16 Nov 2015 00:00:00 -0800http://www.rumberger.com/90F6E0/assets/files/News/Coordinating Discovery in Mass Tort Litigation.pdf&format=xml&p=4149Florida’s Daubert Jurisprudence Gradually Continues to Evolve: First District Decision Emphasizes Timeliness of Daubert Motions & Other Nuanceshttp://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=41553&format=xml&p=4149<p>On May 29, 2015, Florida&rsquo;s First District Court of Appeal issued a per curiam opinion thoroughly examining the seemingly new <i>Daubert </i>test as a matter of Florida law. <i>See </i><i>Booker v. Sumter Cnty. Sheriff's Office/N. Am. Risk Servs.</i>, No. 1D14-4812, 2015 WL 3444359 (Fla. 1st DCA May 29, 2015).&nbsp;The appeal was taken from an order of the Judge of Compensation Claims denying the Appellant-claimant&rsquo;s workers&rsquo; compensation benefits related to an accident that took place on May 23, 2013.&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at *1.&nbsp;The majority of the issues the Appellant-claimant raised on appeal were challenges to the judge&rsquo;s <i>Daubert</i> rulings.&nbsp;</p> <p>The First District initially addressed the background of the <i>Daubert </i>test in its early development as a matter of Florida law.&nbsp;The Court pointed to <i>Giaimo v. Florida Autosport, Inc.</i>, 154 So. 3d 385 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014) to establish Florida&rsquo;s adoption of the <i>Daubert </i>standard in Florida Statute Section 90.702 (2013).&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>This aspect of the <i>Booker </i>decision serves as a useful primer on <i>Daubert </i>as a matter of Florida law and citation resource for a standard of review.&nbsp;</p> <p>The First District then turns to a less pondered issue &ndash; but by no means unimportant &ndash; relating to the timeliness of a <i>Daubert </i>challenge.&nbsp;In fact, the decision exemplifies the grave importance and critical consequences bearing on the temporal considerations of when to bring a <i>Daubert </i>challenge.&nbsp;One of the Appellant-claimant&rsquo;s main issues on appeal was the judge&rsquo;s ruling that the Appellant-claimant&rsquo;s <i>Daubert </i>objection to the admissibility of Appellees&rsquo; independent medical examiner&rsquo;s opinions was untimely.&nbsp;<i>Id.</i><span>&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Focusing on a trial court&rsquo;s ruling on the timeliness of a <i>Daubert </i>challenge and the admissibility of expert testimony, the First District emphasized the role of the trial court as &ldquo;gatekeeper&rdquo;: &ldquo;When engaging in a <u>Daubert</u> analysis, the judge&rsquo;s role is that of the evidentiary &ldquo;gatekeeper,&rdquo; that is, the one who determines whether the expert&rsquo;s testimony meets the <u>Daubert</u> test.&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>(citing <i>Daubert</i>, <i>Kumho</i>, and <i>Joiner</i>).&nbsp;Litigators generally relate the &ldquo;gatekeeper&rdquo; function of the trial court with the qualifications, methodology, and reliability elements typically litigated with <i>Daubert </i>challenges. However, the <i>Booker </i>decision makes readily apparent that there is more &ndash; the timeliness of the <i>Daubert </i>challenge as a threshold and procedural matter. The Court further expounds that &ldquo;[f]ederal courts, which have long relied on the <u>Daubert</u> standard, have held that a trial court has broad discretion in determining <i>how to</i> <i>perform its gatekeeper function</i> when addressing the admissibility of expert testimony.&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>(citing <i>Club Car, Inc. v. Club Car (Quebec) Import, Inc.</i>, 362 F.3d 775, 780 (11th Cir. 2004))(emphasis added).&nbsp;Therefore, a trial court&rsquo;s determination that a <i>Daubert </i>challenge was not timely raised is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.&nbsp;</p> <p>Applying the aforementioned principles to the case at hand, and against that background, the <i>Booker </i>Court held that &ldquo;Florida has long had . . . case law addressing the relevant procedural matters such as the necessity of raising timely objections . . . .&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at *2 (citing <i>Dirling v. Sarasota Cnty. Gov.</i>, 871 So. 2d 303, 304 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004)).&nbsp;Prior to the enactment of the <i>Daubert </i>standard as part of the Florida Evidence Code, Florida law focused on when the party or litigant &ldquo;became <i>aware</i> of the basis for the opinion&rdquo; for purposes of determining the timeliness of a <i>Daubert </i>challenge, which is more or less analogous to the well-known discovery rule for purposes of statutes of limitation (<i>i.e. </i>knew or should have known).&nbsp;<i>See id. </i>(emphasis supplied).<span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p>So when is a <i>Daubert </i>objection/challenge timely?&nbsp;The First District gave the example that if the basis for an expert opinion being scientific was not discovered until a final hearing, then a motion raised contemporaneously at the final hearing would be considered timely. <i>See id.&nbsp;</i>However, the facts in <i>Booker </i>were not such.&nbsp;In <i>Booker</i>, the Appellant-claimant became aware of the basis for the opposing expert&rsquo;s opinions when the doctor provided his report for the independent medical examination (&ldquo;IME&rdquo;) well before the challenge.&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>The Appellant-claimant&rsquo;s &ldquo;awareness&rdquo; was then reinforced a second time during the IME doctor&rsquo;s deposition &ndash; also well before the actual challenge.&nbsp;Despite all of the above-referenced notice, the Appellant-claimant did not raise a <i>Daubert </i>challenge until two weeks before the final hearing.&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>The <i>Booker </i>Court held that the Appellant-claimant &ldquo;should have raised [a] <i>Daubert </i>challenge when the report was received, or promptly thereafter, and certainly by the time of the . . . . deposition.&rdquo; <i>Id.</i></p> <p>Moreover, the <i>Booker </i>Court disapproved of the foot-dragging tactic of waiting until last minute to raise a <i>Daubert </i>challenge as to not allow the opposing party ample opportunity to address and/or cure any perceived deficiencies in the expert testimony as matters or functions of fairness, even playing-field, notice, and judicial economy.&nbsp;Along the same lines, the Court directly addressed the sufficiency of a <i>Daubert </i>challenge, harping on the need to have a specific basis for the challenge, citations to conflicting medical literature and conflicting expert testimony, etc.&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>The Court also noted that pure opinion testimony is no longer admissible in Florida under the <i>Daubert </i>standard.&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at *3.&nbsp;Lastly, the Court discussed the judicial notice exception to a <i>Daubert </i>challenge, which generally posits that a trial court may take judicial notice of proposed expert testimony &ldquo;if the expert testimony has been deemed reliable by an appellate court.&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at *4 (relying on a Kentucky case).&nbsp;Application of the judicial notice exception arguably&nbsp;relieves the burden of the proponent of the objectionable expert testimony and then shifts the burden to the opponent of the expert testimony to prove that such evidence is otherwise flawed or inadmissible under the governing standard.&nbsp;<i>Id.</i></p> <p>In sum, if not timely brought, a <i>Daubert</i> challenge can be barred within the sound discretion of the trial court.&nbsp;Extending beyond the worker&rsquo;s compensation context, it is critical to ensure that there are clear and firm deadlines for <i>Daubert </i>challenges in the trial order for all cases.&nbsp;When bringing a <i>Daubert </i>challenge, a litigant must provide specific, detailed bases to put the opposing party on notice.&nbsp;Litigators should be mindful of precedent with regard to specific experts as well as specific areas of proposed expert testimony for purposes of judicial notice arguments.&nbsp;Practioners must also be mindful of properly preparing experts regarding the now prohibited pure opinion testimony.&nbsp;</p> <p><u>For additional reading or resources regarding <i>Daubert </i>as a matter of Florida law, see</u>:</p> <p><a href="http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&amp;an=30284&amp;format=xml&amp;p=5085#.VXBjts9Viko">http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&amp;an=30284&amp;format=xml&amp;p=5085#.VXBjts9Viko</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.dadecountybar.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/May-Final.pdf">https://www.dadecountybar.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/May-Final.pdf</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&amp;an=19966&amp;format=xml&amp;p=4946">http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&amp;an=19966&amp;format=xml&amp;p=4946</a></p>Products Liability Blog17 Jun 2015 00:00:00 -0800http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=41553&format=xml&p=4149Defense Strategies When Confronting the Perils of an Inconsistent Verdicthttp://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=40321&format=xml&p=4149<h3>New decision by the Florida Supreme Court Eliminates Important Defense Protection in Cases Involving Inconsistent Verdicts</h3> <p>On May 14, 2015 the Florida Supreme Court eliminated an important protection for product liability defendants in design defect cases that produce inconsistent jury verdicts. The court&rsquo;s decision in Coba v. Tricam Industries, Inc., jettisoned Florida&rsquo;s unique, &ldquo;fundamental nature&rdquo; exception to the requirement that counsel must object to an inconsistent verdict before the jury is discharged. This article discusses the risks of inconsistent verdicts in product liability design defect cases and the strategies that defense counsel of any jurisdiction can employ when confronting the perils of an inconsistent verdict.</p> <p>In Coba, plaintiff brought a wrongful death products liability action against the manufacturer of an aluminum ladder. The case went to the jury on two theories: strict liability for a design defect and negligence for the failure to design the ladder in a reasonably safe condition. At the conclusion of the evidence, the trial court authored a verdict form for the jury to use in deliberations. The following reflects the jury&rsquo;s key entries on the verdict form in Coba:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="461" vspace="0" hspace="0" height="183" border="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" src="http://www.rumberger.com/90F6E0/assets/images//cobia.jpg" /></p> <p class="MsoNormal">After entering their conclusions on the verdict form, the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Coba</i> jury returned a seven-figure award and they were discharged by the trial court without objection from defense counsel.<a title="" name="_ednref1" style="mso-endnote-id:edn1" href="#_edn1"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[1]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The manufacturer-defendant subsequently filed a motion to set aside the verdict as inconsistent.<a href="#_edn2" title="" name="_ednref2" style="mso-endnote-id: edn2"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[2]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Because plaintiff&rsquo;s liability theory was based exclusively on a design defect, the manufacturer argued that the jury&rsquo;s finding of negligence was fundamentally inconsistent with its conclusion that there was no design defect.<a title="" name="_ednref3" style="mso-endnote-id:edn3" href="#_edn3"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[3]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">The appellate court agreed and granted the manufacturer&rsquo;s motion. The appellate court acknowledged the general rule that a party waives an objection to an inconsistent verdict if it fails to raise the issue before the jury is released.<a title="" name="_ednref4" style="mso-endnote-id:edn4" href="#_edn4"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[4]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>However, the court applied a common law exception adopted by other Florida appellate districts in cases where the verdict inconsistency was &ldquo;of a fundamental nature.&rdquo;<a title="" name="_ednref5" style="mso-endnote-id:edn5" href="#_edn5"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[5]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The appellate court determined this exception was present in <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Coba </i>because plaintiff had limited its presentation of trial evidence solely to a purported design defect.<a title="" name="_ednref6" style="mso-endnote-id:edn6" href="#_edn6"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[6]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Thus, when the jury found no evidence of an actionable design defect, the inconsistent finding of negligence was fundamentally unsupportable.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The appellate court concluded that the failure to contemporaneously object did not waive the right to challenge a verdict inconsistency of such a fundamental nature.<a title="" name="_ednref7" style="mso-endnote-id:edn7" href="#_edn7"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[7]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The court then resolved the inconsistency in favor of the defense rather than remanding the case for a new trial.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The appellate court reasoned that because plaintiff only put on evidence of a design defect as the basis for the products liability claim, the jury&rsquo;s failure to find a defect meant &ldquo;there was no evidence to support any other cause of action [and] no issue to be resolved on remand.&rdquo;<a title="" name="_ednref8" style="mso-endnote-id:edn8" href="#_edn8"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[8]</span></span></span></span></a></p> <p class="MsoNormal">The Florida Supreme Court overturned the appellate court and held that there is no &ldquo;fundamental nature&rdquo; exception to the waiver that occurs when the defendant fails to object to an to an inconsistent verdict before the jury is discharged.<a title="" name="_ednref9" style="mso-endnote-id:edn9" href="#_edn9"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[9]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The Supreme Court determined that a &ldquo;fundamental nature&rdquo; exception in products liability cases is &ldquo;at odds with the [....] policy reasons undergirding the requirement of timely objection, including upholding the sanctity of the jury&rsquo;s role in trial, preventing strategic gamesmanship, and increasing judicial efficiency.&rdquo;<a title="" name="_ednref10" style="mso-endnote-id:edn10" href="#_edn10"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[10]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">In part, the Supreme Court based its ruling on a desire to prevent defense counsel from &ldquo;strategically sitting on the objection until after the jury is no longer available to correct its decision.&rdquo;<a title="" name="_ednref11" style="mso-endnote-id:edn11" href="#_edn11"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[11]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The court ignored however, the strategic practice by which plaintiffs&rsquo; counsel present superfluous liability theories in design defect cases to emphasize multiple grounds for recovery on the verdict form despite the risk of inconsistent verdicts.<a title="" name="_ednref12" style="mso-endnote-id:edn12" href="#_edn12"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[12]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Such tactic may involve a wager that the defense will not recognize the problem in the frenetic moments between verdict announcement and jury discharge in order to timely object.<a href="#_edn13" title="" name="_ednref13" style="mso-endnote-id: edn13"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[13]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Moreover, trial is a considerable interruption to the personal lives of the jurors and when verdict is announced, a powerful momentum arises to terminate their service and swiftly return them to their real lives.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>In this atmosphere, there is a clear disincentive for defense counsel to demand the jury return to deliberations to reconsider a verdict in which they have already signaled at least partial favor for plaintiff&rsquo;s case.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>When a judge requires a jury to reconsider their verdict, they are not bound by former conclusions on the verdict form and they are free to comprehensively review the case and bring an entirely new verdict.<a title="" name="_ednref14" style="mso-endnote-id:edn14" href="#_edn14"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[14]</span></span></span></span></a> In such a situation, defense counsel certainly risks jury reprisal by impeding the conclusion of their service by obligating them to reconsider a verdict inconsistency.<a title="" name="_ednref15" style="mso-endnote-id:edn15" href="#_edn15"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[15]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">With these considerations in mind, the following strategies should be employed by defense counsel of any jurisdiction when confronting the perils of an inconsistent verdict (regardless of the cause of action):</p> <ul> <li>First, defense counsel must be cautious about special verdict forms especially where authored by opposing counsel or the judge.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The popularity of special verdict forms with multiple interrogatories continues to grow in modern litigation.<a title="" name="_ednref16" style="mso-endnote-id:edn16" href="#_edn16"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[16]</span></span></span></span></a> However, the increased use of such verdict forms comes with an attendant rise in the risk of the jury issuing inconsistent&nbsp;answers to the verdict interrogatories.<a title="" name="_ednref17" style="mso-endnote-id:edn17" href="#_edn17"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[17]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>For example, on the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Coba</i> verdict form, the first interrogatory unwisely asked the strict liability question without reference to the &ldquo;unreasonably dangerous&rdquo; terminology which defines product defectiveness in Florida.<a title="" name="_ednref18" style="mso-endnote-id:edn18" href="#_edn18"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[18]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Had such terminology been included in the first interrogatory question, the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Coba</i> verdict form might have emphasized the need for the negligence interrogatory to be answered consistently.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Additionally, the form needlessly prompted the jury to proceed to the second interrogatory about negligence even if they did not find an actionable design defect in the first.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Considering the case presented at trial, the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Coba</i> verdict form should have directed the jury to proceed no further if they gave a negative response to the first interrogatory.<a title="" name="_ednref19" style="mso-endnote-id:edn19" href="#_edn19"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[19]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The bottom line is that defense counsel must closely examine draft verdict forms for the potential of inconsistent jury conclusions considering the associated jury instructions and the evidence proffered by plaintiff during trial.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></li> <li>In light of the frenzied atmosphere that typically unfolds at the announcement of the verdict, defense counsel must take advantage of the opportunity to be more deliberative in evaluating the draft verdict form when litigated in relative repose earlier in the trial.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>At that time, defense counsel should also be unsparing in raising appropriate objections to the substance of verdict form entries drafted by the court or opposing counsel.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Pertinent objections to the verdict form have the capacity to also preserve an appellate challenge to a subsequent inconsistent verdict by the jury.<a title="" name="_ednref20" style="mso-endnote-id:edn20" href="#_edn20"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[20]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></li> <li>When there is a prospect of an inconsistent verdict, advance efforts must be made with the judge to:&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p style="margin-left:1.0in;mso-add-space:auto; text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level2 lfo1" class="ListParagraphCxSpLast"><span style="font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Courier New&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Courier New&quot;"><span style="mso-list:Ignore">o<span style="font:7.0pt &quot;Times New Roman&quot;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span>avoid a post-verdict environment in which defense counsel must precipitately evaluate the presence of a verdict inconsistency; and,<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left:1.0in;mso-add-space:auto; text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level2 lfo1" class="ListParagraphCxSpFirst"><span style="font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Courier New&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Courier New&quot;"><span style="mso-list:Ignore">o<span style="font:7.0pt &quot;Times New Roman&quot;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span>mitigate jury aggravation should they be required to return to deliberations to resolve an inconsistency.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Examples of such advance efforts include:<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>(a) avoiding scenarios whereby the jury enters deliberations likely to culminate at the close of business or the end of the work week, (b)<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>asking the judge to affirmatively warn jurors in the instructions that they may have additional post-verdict responsibilities (or at a minimum, asking the judge and opposing counsel to refrain from comments to the jury which create an expectation that their work is concluded the moment they announce a verdict), (c) a preemptive request to the judge &ndash; before jury deliberations &ndash; that counsel receive a sufficient moment, outside the presence of the jury, to consider any verdict inconsistency before jury discharge.</li> <li>Once the verdict form is provided to the jury, defense counsel must anticipate the scenarios that could result in an inconsistent verdict no matter how theoretical.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Questions raised by the jury about the form during deliberations must be scrutinized for signs of a looming inconsistent decision. Defense counsel should use the time during jury deliberations to research the standard applicable to the possible verdict inconsistencies and to formulate the objections and arguments to be made before jurors are discharged.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span></li> <li>If the jury is discharged without defense objection, there is still the possibility of a motion for judgment in favor of the defense notwithstanding the verdict (&ldquo;motion for JNOV&rdquo;).<a title="" name="_ednref21" style="mso-endnote-id:edn21" href="#_edn21"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[21]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p style="margin-left:1.0in;mso-add-space:auto; text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level2 lfo1" class="ListParagraphCxSpLast"><span style="font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Courier New&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Courier New&quot;"><span style="mso-list:Ignore">o<span style="font:7.0pt &quot;Times New Roman&quot;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span>For example, before the jury ever receives the case, it is now a standard practice for defense counsel to move for directed verdict arguing that plaintiff&rsquo;s evidence was insufficient to give the case to the jury.<a title="" name="_ednref22" style="mso-endnote-id:edn22" href="#_edn22"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[22]</span></span></span></span></a><sup>-<a title="" name="_ednref23" style="mso-endnote-id:edn23" href="#_edn23"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[23]</span></span></span></span></a></sup>&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left:1.0in;mso-add-space:auto; text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level2 lfo1" class="ListParagraphCxSpFirst"><span style="font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Courier New&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Courier New&quot;"><span style="mso-list:Ignore">o<span style="font:7.0pt &quot;Times New Roman&quot;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span>When a verdict inconsistency is then recognized only after the jury is discharged, defense counsel should consider whether such inconsistency illustrates,<i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal"> in and of itself</i>, the absence of sufficient evidence to support that portion of the verdict which favored plaintiff. A motion for JNOV is appropriate in cases where the reasonable jury could not render a plaintiff&rsquo;s verdict based on the evidence introduced at trial.<a title="" name="_ednref24" style="mso-endnote-id:edn24" href="#_edn24"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[24]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Therefore, provided the defense made the standard motion for directed verdict at the close of plaintiff&rsquo;s case, there remains a post-trial JNOV attack<a title="" name="_ednref25" style="mso-endnote-id:edn25" href="#_edn25"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[25]</span></span></span></span></a> on an inconsistent verdict on grounds that the contradiction manifests a lack of evidence to legally support that portion of the verdict for plaintiff.<a title="" name="_ednref26" style="mso-endnote-id:edn26" href="#_edn26"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[26]</span></span></span></span></a><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Such grounds are preserved even where defendant waived the inconsistent verdict objection.<a href="#_edn27" title="" name="_ednref27" style="mso-endnote-id: edn27"><sup><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><sup><span style="font-size:12.0pt; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[27]</span></sup></span></sup></a>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">A difficult predicament arises for defense counsel when the perils of an inconsistent verdict arise at trial.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>For the products liability defense attorney, this is most likely to occur in the design defect case where plaintiff needlessly presents both strict liability and negligence claims as to the same defect theory.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>As a result of the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Coba</i> decision, Florida now joins other jurisdictions which require the defense to object before jury discharge in order to make an appellate challenge to an inconsistent verdict.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>However, by employing the strategies discussed above, defense counsel can minimize the dilemmas resulting from this requirement and perhaps transfer back to plaintiff, the risk of post-trial consequences of the inconsistent verdict.<span style="color:red">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="color:red">&nbsp;</span></p> <div style="mso-element:endnote-list"><br clear="all" /> <hr width="33%" size="1" align="left" /> <div id="edn1" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn1" style="mso-endnote-id:edn1" href="#_ednref1"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[1]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id.</i></p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn2" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn2" style="mso-endnote-id:edn2" href="#_ednref2"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[2]</span></span></span></span></a> In Florida, an inconsistent verdict occurs &ldquo;Where the findings of a jury&rsquo;s verdict in two or more respects are [....] such that both cannot be true and therefore stand at the same time....&rdquo;<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See id. </i>at * 6 quoting&nbsp;<i>Crawford v. DiMicco,</i>&nbsp;216 So. 2d 769, 771 (Fla. 4th DCA 1968).</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn3" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn3" style="mso-endnote-id:edn3" href="#_ednref3"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[3]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Tricam Industries, Inc. v. Coba</i>, 100 So. 3d at 108.</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn4" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn4" style="mso-endnote-id:edn4" href="#_ednref4"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[4]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>. at 108-09.</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn5" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn5" style="mso-endnote-id:edn5" href="#_ednref5"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[5]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>.</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn6" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn6" style="mso-endnote-id:edn6" href="#_ednref6"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[6]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>. at 110-11.</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn7" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn7" style="mso-endnote-id:edn7" href="#_ednref7"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[7]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>.</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn8" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn8" style="mso-endnote-id:edn8" href="#_ednref8"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[8]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>. at 108-09.</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn9" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn9" style="mso-endnote-id:edn9" href="#_ednref9"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[9]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Coba, </i>40 Fla. L. Weekly S257a<i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">. </i>at *1</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn10" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn10" style="mso-endnote-id:edn10" href="#_ednref10"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[10]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id.</i> at *8.</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn11" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn11" style="mso-endnote-id:edn11" href="#_ednref11"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[11]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>. at *7.</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn12" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoNormal"><a title="" name="_edn12" style="mso-endnote-id:edn12" href="#_ednref12"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[12]</span></span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-size:10.0pt"> A growing number of courts and commentators have found that, in cases in which the plaintiff's injury is caused by an alleged defect in the design of a product, there is no practical difference between theories of negligence and strict liability.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Ackerman v. Am. Cyanamid Co.</i>, 586 N.W.2d 208, 220 (Iowa 1998).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>There is certainly support for this perception in Florida. <i><span style="background:white">See&nbsp;Husky Industries, Inc. v. Black,&nbsp;</span></i><span style="background:white;mso-bidi-font-style:italic">434 So. 2d 988, 991 (Fla. 4th DCA 1983) (&ldquo;A&nbsp;<a name="SR;4786"></a>defectively<a name="SR;4787"></a> designed&nbsp;product is one that has been&nbsp;<a name="SR;4794"></a>negligently&nbsp;<a name="SR;4795"></a>designed.&rdquo;).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>It is likewise a common perception in other jurisdictions, some of which prohibit a design defect theory going to the jury on both negligence and strict liability theories.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i>See Gauthier v. AMF, Inc.</i></span><span style="background:white">, 788 F.2d 634, 637 (9th Cir. 1986) (&ldquo;There is no practical difference between strict liability and negligence in defective design cases....&rdquo;); </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">J<span style="mso-bidi-font-style:italic">ones v. Hutchinson Manufacturing, Inc.,</span></i>&nbsp;502 S.W.2d 66, 69-70 (Ky. 1973) (finding no difference between standards of conduct under strict liability and negligence in design defect case). <i>See generally</i>&nbsp;David Owen,&nbsp;<i>Products Liability Law Restated,</i>&nbsp;49 S.C. L.Rev. 273, 286 (1998) (&ldquo;It long has been an open secret that, while purporting to apply &lsquo;strict&rsquo; liability doctrine to design [....] cases, courts in fact have been applying principles that look remarkably like negligence&rdquo;).<span style="background:#E9E9E9"><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn13" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn13" style="mso-endnote-id:edn13" href="#_ednref13"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[13]</span></span></span></span></a> Indeed, Florida case law prior to <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Coba</i>, demonstrates the difficulty of rapidly analyzing the presence of a verdict inconsistency at the culmination of trial and the jury&rsquo;s release.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>For example, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">see Simpson v. Stone</i>, 662 So.2d 959, 961-962&nbsp;(Fla. 5th DCA 1995) (Recognizing the unfairness of finding a party waived the right to challenge an inadequate verdict considering, &ldquo;the lack of clarity in the existing case law&rdquo; for distinguishing a verdict inconsistency requiring contemporaneous objection versus a verdict inadequacy which does not).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><a name="citeas((Cite_as:_662_So.2d_959,_*962)"></a><a name="FN1"></a><a name="sp_735_962"></a><a name="SDU_962"></a></p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn14" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn14" style="mso-endnote-id:edn14" href="#_ednref14"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[14]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Morton Roofing, Inc. v. Prather</i>, 864 So. 2d 64, 66 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003) quoting <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Tobin v. Garry</i>, 127 So. 2d 698 (Fla. 2d DCA 1961).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See also Stevens Markets, Inc. v. Markantonatos,&nbsp;</i>189 So.2d 624, 626&nbsp;(Fla. 1966) (When a verdict is returned for correction, the jury may alter it in substance or submit a different verdict because, &ldquo;Until a verdict is accepted by the court, the entire cause remains in the hands of the jury&rdquo;).</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn15" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn15" style="mso-endnote-id:edn15" href="#_ednref15"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[15]</span></span></span></span></a> For example, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">see C.G. Chase Construction v. Colon, </i>755 So. 2d 1144 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998) (<span style="color:black">Court recognizes that a party seeking the jury&rsquo;s reconsideration of an inconsistent verdict &ldquo;naturally risk[s] having the award unfavorably adjusted&rdquo;).</span></p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn16" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn16" style="mso-endnote-id:edn16" href="#_ednref16"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[16]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See Butz v. Werner</i>, 438 N.W.2d 509, 520&nbsp;(N.D. 1989) (Vande Walle, J., concurring)</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn17" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn17" style="mso-endnote-id:edn17" href="#_ednref17"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[17]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>.</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn18" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn18" style="mso-endnote-id:edn18" href="#_ednref18"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[18]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See Cassisi v. Maytag Co., </i>396 So. 2d 1140, 1143-44 (Fla. 1st DCA 1981) (Submissible products liability case requires the product be in a defective condition <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">unreasonably dangerous to the user</i></b>).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See also </i>Fla. Standard Jury Instruction (Civil) No. 403.7b (&ldquo;A product is defective because of design if it is in a condition <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">unreasonable dangerous</i></b> to the user....&rdquo;) (emphasis added) (internal citations omitted).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn19" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn19" style="mso-endnote-id:edn19" href="#_ednref19"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[19]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See</i> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Coba</i>, 100 So. 3d at 111.</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn20" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn20" style="mso-endnote-id:edn20" href="#_ednref20"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[20]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See Spitz v. Prudential-Bache Securities, Inc.,</i><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>549 So.2d 777, 778&nbsp;(Fla. 4th DCA 1989) (Finding that a challenge to the jury&rsquo;s inconsistent verdict was preserved where the objecting party &ldquo;clearly&nbsp;<a name="SR;705"></a>objected&nbsp;both at the time the&nbsp;<a name="SR;711"></a>verdict<a name="SR;712"></a> form&nbsp;was first presented to the judge for consideration, and again during the jury&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a name="SR;726"></a>deliberations when the jury presented a question to the judge as to the form of verdict&rdquo;);<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Chabad House-Lubavitch of Palm Beach County v. Banks</i>, 602 So. 2d 670, 672 (Fla. 4th DCA 1992) (A party preserved its objection to an inconsistent verdict where among other things, it raised concerns about the verdict form during the charge conference).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">See also, </i><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span><i>Buchwald v. Renco Group</i><span style="mso-bidi-font-style:italic">, No. 13-cv-7948 (AJN), March 4, 2015 (S.D.N.Y.) </span>(<a name="SearchTerm">An objection asserting that a special verdict raises the possibility of an&nbsp;</a><a name="SR;2389"></a><span style="mso-bookmark:SearchTerm">inconsistent&nbsp;<a name="SR;2390"></a>verdict is preserved when made</span>&nbsp;before the jury has retired to deliberate) citing <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Cash v. County of Erie</i>, 654 F.3d 324, 340 (2d Cir.2011).&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn21" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn21" style="mso-endnote-id:edn21" href="#_ednref21"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[21]</span></span></span></span></a> &ldquo;JNOV&rdquo; is an acronym for &ldquo;judgment<a name="SR;1781"></a>non<a name="SR;1782"></a> obstante<a name="SR;1783"></a> veredicto,&rdquo; the Latin term for &ldquo;judgment<a name="SR;1787"></a> notwithstanding the verdict.&rdquo;</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn22" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn22" style="mso-endnote-id:edn22" href="#_ednref22"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[22]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See Galloway v. U.S.</i>&nbsp; 319 U.S. 372, 405, 63 S.Ct. 1077, 1094 - 1095&nbsp;(1943) (&ldquo;[T]he motion for directed verdict has become routine&rdquo; for defendants in civil litigation); <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See also, W. B. D., Inc. v. Howard Johnson Co.</i>, <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>382 So.2d 1323, 1325&nbsp;(Fla. 1st DCA 1980) (Labeling the request for directed verdict as &ldquo;the usual&rdquo; defense motion &ldquo;at the conclusion of plaintiffs&rsquo; case&rdquo;).<span style="color:red"> </span></p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn23" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn23" style="mso-endnote-id:edn23" href="#_ednref23"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[23]</span></span></span></span></a> &ldquo;Motion for directed verdict,&rdquo; refers to the defense motion at the conclusion of plaintiff&rsquo;s case seeking a legal ruling that the evidence does not demonstrate an issue for a jury to try.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See Meus v. Eagle Family Discount Stores, Inc</i>, <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>499 So.2d 840, 841&nbsp;(Fla. 3d DCA 1986) (&ldquo;Like its&nbsp;<i>pretrial</i>&nbsp;counterpart &ndash; the summary judgment &ndash; the directed verdict is a ruling that a reasonable-minded jury could not differ as to the existence of a material fact, that therefore, no factual determination is required and, that judgment must be entered for the movant as a matter of law&rdquo;).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The &ldquo;directed verdict&rdquo; terminology stems from the now obsolete practice whereby a trial court &ldquo;directed&rdquo; the jury, through an instruction or charge, to return a specific verdict because the court had decided the outcome of the trial could not possibly be a matter of dispute among the jurors.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>. citing<i><span style="font-size:12.0pt"> </span>Origin and Development of The Directed Verdict,</i>&nbsp;48 Mich.L.Rev. 555, 589 (1950).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn24" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn24" style="mso-endnote-id:edn24" href="#_ednref24"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[24]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See New Jerusalem Church of God, Inc. v. Sneads Cmty. Church, Inc.</i>, 147 So. 3d 25, 28 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn25" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn25" style="mso-endnote-id:edn25" href="#_ednref25"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[25]</span></span></span></span></a> Although the term &ldquo;motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict&rdquo; is still employed, a motion challenging a jury verdict is often styled today as a &ldquo;motion for judgment in accordance with a prior motion for directed verdict.&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>See&nbsp;Fire &amp; Casualty Ins. Co. v. Sealey,</i>&nbsp;810 So.2d 988, 991 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002).</p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn26" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn26" style="mso-endnote-id:edn26" href="#_ednref26"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[26]</span></span></span></span></a> For example<i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">, see <span style="mso-bidi-font-style: italic">Williams v. Hines,</span></i>&nbsp;80 Fla. 690, 86 So. 695 (Fla. 1920).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>In&nbsp;<i>Williams, </i>a train passenger sued a railroad employee alleging that the employee&rsquo;s negligence caused the plaintiff physical injury.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The plaintiff also sued the railroad for vicarious liability under the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">respondeat superior</i> doctrine.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>. at 696-697.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The jury returned an inconsistent verdict which exonerated the employee but imposed liability on the employer.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>. at 695.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the trial court&rsquo;s decision to grant the railroad&rsquo;s motion for judgment JNOV.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>. at 702.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The Supreme Court reasoned that there was no basis for a verdict against the master where, based on the evidence before them, the jury exonerated the servant.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Id</i>.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div id="edn27" style="mso-element:endnote"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><a title="" name="_edn27" style="mso-endnote-id:edn27" href="#_ednref27"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character: footnote"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[27]</span></span></span></span></a> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Coba, </i>40 Fla. L. Weekly S257a<i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">. </i>at *8 and *12 (The trial court may properly enter judgment pursuant to an inconsistent verdict where there was no timely objection &ldquo;unless there is no evidence to support one finding over another&rdquo;).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The genesis of the defense argument here is the common law dictum which holds that, where proven facts give equal support to two inconsistent hypotheses, then neither of them are established and the judgment must go against the party having the burden of proof.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">See In re Estate of Severns</i>, 352 N.W.2d 865, 870&nbsp;(Neb. 1984);<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Lisa-Jet, Inc. v. Duncan Aviation, Inc</i>, 569 F.2d 1044, 1048&nbsp;(D. Neb. 1978); <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">New York Life Ins. Co. v. Prejean</i>, 149 F.2d 114, 116&nbsp;(5th Cir. 1945).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">&nbsp;</i></p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText">&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> <ul> <div style="mso-element:footnote-list"> <div id="ftn1" style="mso-element:footnote">&nbsp;</div> </div> </ul>Products Liability Blog26 May 2015 00:00:00 -0800http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=40321&format=xml&p=4149Jury Instructions Changed for Product Liability Caseshttp://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=38897&format=xml&p=4149<p><strong>Originally published in the April 21, 2015 issue of <em>The Daily Business Review</em></strong><br /> <br /> <br /> On March 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of Florida authorized proposed changes to the standard jury instructions pertaining to product liability cases. <i>See In Re: Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases &mdash; Report No. 13-01 (Products Liability)</i>, No. SC13-683, 2015 WL 1400770 (Fla. Mar. 26, 2015).&nbsp;The new instructions will serve as the standard or model for all products liability cases tried under Florida law from the date of the opinion.&nbsp;</p> <p>As a matter of historical background, in 2006 (approximately 9 years ago), The Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases began the endeavor of revamping and retooling the model instructions for all civil lawsuits.&nbsp;In 2010, the first set of revised instructions rolled out and product liability instructions were completely omitted.&nbsp;Then in 2012, the Florida Supreme Court preliminarily approved several proposed revisions to the products liability instructions, which were not yet in effect. <span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&ldquo;The approvals [were] only preliminary because [the] group of instructions [had to] be viewed as a full package before authorization [could] be provided.&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>See In Re Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases &mdash; Report No. 09-10 (Products Liability)</i>, No. SC09-1264, 91 So. 3d 785 (Fla. May 17, 2012).Approximately three years ago, the Court cautioned that &ldquo;further work is required before publication and use of these preliminary products liability instructions, model forms, verdict forms, and any other material[s].&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>Id.</i> </span></p> <p>Addressing the substance of the newly enacted standard product liability jury instructions, there are certain key topics or instructions (set forth below) meriting discussion and analysis.</p> <p><b><u>Design Defect: Consumer Expectation vs. Risk-Benefit Tests </u></b></p> <p>The instructions provide separate definitions and instructions for manufacturing defect and design defect.&nbsp;</p> <p>A product has a &ldquo;manufacturing defect&rdquo; &ldquo;if its in a condition unreasonably dangerous to [the user] [a person in the vicinity of the product] and the product is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without substantial change affecting that condition.&nbsp;A product is unreasonably dangerous because of a manufacturing defect if it is different from its intended design and fails to perform as safely as the intended design would have performed.&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at 403.7(a).&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;A product is defective because of design defect if it is in a condition unreasonably dangerous to [the user] [a person in the vicinity of the product] and the product is expected to and does reach the user without substantial change affecting that condition.&nbsp;A product is unreasonably dangerous because of its design if [<b>the product fails to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used as intended or when used in a manner reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer</b>] [and][or] [<b>the risk of danger in the design outweighs the benefit</b>].&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at 403.7(b).</p> <p>Instruction 403.7 retains the consumer expectation and risk-utility tests for defining a design defect.<span>&nbsp;&nbsp; At first glance, the consumer expectation test is not only first test that appears in the instruction but is also wordier than the risk-utility test that follows.&nbsp;The risk-utility test does not have much substance, context, or explanation.&nbsp;Moreover, the instruction is written in a disjunctive as well as a conjunctive fashion, which leaves considerable leeway for both plaintiffs and defendants to argue that one test should be applied over the other or both tests should be provided.&nbsp;The usual litany of arguments at the epicenter of the tension between the consumer expectation and risk-utility tests will persist despite the Committee&rsquo;s best efforts. Arguments against application of the consumer expectation test in some, if not all, circumstances regarding the complexity of a product and/or the alleged defect, first time users, varying experience levels, misuse, etc., will still be well within the defense arsenal.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The Committee Notes even recognize the split amongst Florida courts with regards to which standard applies for purposes of defining a design defect.&nbsp;The First, Fourth, and Fifth District Courts of Appeal seem to be more inclined to apply the plaintiff-friendly consumer expectation test from the Second Restatement of Torts.&nbsp;The Third District has adopted the Third Restatement&rsquo;s risk-utility and reasonable alternative design standards for defining a design defect.&nbsp;</p> <p>Often times, trial courts will simply allow both instructions, which seems to be the plausible outcome going forward given the instruction&rsquo;s &ldquo;and/or&rdquo; terminology and notes.&nbsp;The Committee Notes state that &ldquo;[p]ending further developments in the law, the committee takes no position on whether the risk/benefit test is a standard for product defect that should be included in the instruction defining design defect or should be included as an affirmative defense.&rdquo; &nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at 403.7 n.3. &nbsp;There is currently a case pending before the Florida Supreme Court, originating from the Third District Court of Appeal, in which the risk-utility and consumer expectation tests are directly at issue in an asbestos case.&nbsp;<i>See Aubin v. Union Carbide Corp</i>. Case No. SC12-2075 (oral argument was held in April 2014); <i>see also </i>Florida Supreme Court Gavel to Gavel, http://wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/viewcase.php?eid=2139.Depending on the <i>Aubin </i>decision, the products liability instructions may be significantly impacted.&nbsp;The Notes further dilute the efficacy and validity of the risk-utility test by stating, &ldquo;<b><i>If</i></b> a court determines that the risk/benefit test is a test for product defect, the committee takes no position on whether both the consumer expectations and risk/benefit tests should be given <b>alternatively or together</b>.&rdquo; &nbsp;<i>Id.</i> &nbsp;(emphasis added).&nbsp;</p> <p><b><u>Failure to Warn (Strict Liability / Negligent)</u></b></p> <p>There are new instructions for strict liability and negligent failure to warn, which have been never been previously recognized in the form of Florida&rsquo;s Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases.&nbsp;</p> <p>The strict liability failure to warn instruction provides: &ldquo;A product is defective when the foreseeable risks of harm from the product could have been reduced or avoided by providing reasonable instructions or warnings, and the failure to provide those instructions or warnings makes the product unreasonably dangerous.&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at 403.8.&nbsp;</p> <p>The negligent failure to warn instruction provides: &ldquo;[Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, which is the care that a reasonably careful [designer] [manufacturer] [seller] [importer] [distributor] [supplier] would use under like circumstances.] Reasonable care on the part of (defendant) requires that (defendant) give appropriate warning(s) about particular risks of (the product) which (defendant) knew or should have known are involved in the reasonably foreseeable use(s) of the product.&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at 403.10.&nbsp;</p> <p>Longstanding and well-established Florida law has evolved over the years to clearly recognize strict liability and negligent failure to warn claims. &nbsp;Such claims are regularly litigated throughout Florida.&nbsp;The practical implication of Instructions 403.8 and 403.10 is that the jury instructions now reflect the current status of Florida law.&nbsp;Moreover, this puts to rest whether strict liability failure to warn is a recognized cause of action under Florida law.&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Additionally, the Committee Notes recognize that strict liability and negligent failure to warn claims are not mutually exclusive of each other.&nbsp;To the contrary, in circumstances where the two claims are &ldquo;tried together, to clarify differences between them it may be necessary to add language to the strict liability instruction to the effect that a product is defective if unreasonably dangerous even though the seller has exercised all possible care in the preparation and sale of the product.&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at 403.8 n. 2.&nbsp;The inclusion of this note makes it challenging to argue the potential for an inconsistent verdict between strict liability and negligent claims as a basis to urge plaintiffs to drop one and streamline the verdict form.&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Perhaps the most far-reaching aspect of the instruction&rsquo;s robust construction of warnings claims is contained in note 2 which states that &ldquo;Under certain circumstances, <b>a manufacturer has a</b> <b>duty to warn about particular risks of a product even after the product has left the manufacturer&rsquo;s possession</b>, and has been sold or transferred to a consumer or end-user.&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>403.10 n.2 (emphasis added) (citing <i>High v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp.</i>, 610 So. 2d 1259, 1263 (Fla. 1992); <i>Sta-Rite Indus., Inc. v. Levey</i>, 909 So. 2d 901, 905 (Fla. 3d DCA 2004)). &nbsp;The note also indicates that a special instruction may be needed in cases properly raising issues of post-manufacture or post-sale duty to warn.&nbsp;The new instructions do not expressly include post-manufacture/sale duty to warn but merely raise the possibility.<a href="#_ftn1" name="_ftnref1" title=""><span><span><span><span>[1]</span></span></span></span></a>&nbsp;Nevertheless, this note may lead to pleadings, jury instructions and verdict forms including an additional theory of liability.&nbsp;Conceivably, there could be three separate and distinct claims on a verdict form only for warnings-based claims (i.e. strict liability, negligent, and post-manufacture/sale failure to warn) in addition to strict and negligent design claims.&nbsp;</p> <p><b><u>Inferences: <i>Cassisi </i>&amp; Government Rule Non/Compliance &nbsp;</u></b></p> <p>Although there are no instructions provided under the newly-enacted standard instructions for &ldquo;403.11 - Inference of Product Defect or Negligence,&rdquo;&nbsp;there are two notes.&nbsp;The first note recognizes that Florida Statute Section 768.1256 &ldquo;provides for a rebuttable presumption in the event of compliance or noncompliance with government rules.&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at 403.11 n.1.&nbsp;The Committee Notes further state that &ldquo;[p]ending further development in the law, the committee offers no standard instruction on this presumption, leaving it up to the parties to propose instructions on a case-by-case basis.&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>Id.</i></p> <p>The second note deals with the Florida case-law created <i>Cassisi </i>inference.&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>at 403.11 n.2 (citing <i>Cassisi v. Maytag Co.</i>, 396 So. 2d 1148 (Fla. 1st DCA 1981).&nbsp;In <i>Cassisi</i>,the court held that when a product <i>malfunctions</i> during normal operation, a legal inference of product defectiveness arises, and the injured plaintiff establishes a prima facie case for jury consideration by application of the inference.&nbsp;<i>Id.</i>The inference does not apply in all cases but is limited to cases where the product is destroyed.&nbsp;Despite a perceived lack of evidence in such cases, the inference gets plaintiffs past summary judgment.&nbsp;There are several concerns with and arguments against application of the inference such as burden-shifting, modification, misuse, abnormal operation, causation, age of the product, length of product&rsquo;s use, the severity of the product&rsquo;s use, the state of repair, and excepted useful life.&nbsp;Pending further development of the law, the Committee took no position on the sufficiency of any possible instructions where the <i>Cassisi </i>inference may apply.<a href="#_ftn2" name="_ftnref2" title=""><span><span><span><span>[2]</span></span></span></span></a>&nbsp;Since there is no express, specific instruction regarding the <i>Cassisi </i>inference only the mere possibility of plaintiffs obtaining this instruction in light of the aforementioned arguments exists.&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></p> <p><b><u>Crashworthiness &amp; &ldquo;Enhanced Injury&rdquo; Claims</u></b></p> <p>The Florida Legislature passed a bill on May 13, 2011 to abrogate the holding in <i>D&rsquo;Amario v. Ford Motor Co.</i> and restore the jury&rsquo;s right to compare the wrongdoing or fault of drivers and/or others responsible for the &ldquo;first collision.&rdquo;&nbsp;The bill was signed into law on June 23, 2011.&nbsp;The new statute explicitly requires the jury to consider the fault of all who contributed to the accident when apportioning fault in any products liability case alleging that injuries were enhanced by a defective product.&nbsp;In line with the recent Florida law abrogating the <i>D&rsquo;Amario </i>precedent, the new standard jury instructions do not contain a specific instruction regarding apportionment of fault in a crashworthiness case.&nbsp;However, there is an &ldquo;enhanced injury&rdquo; instruction under the &ldquo;403.2 - Summary of Claims.&rdquo; The Note indicates that the following instruction is to be used in crashworthiness cases: &ldquo;[(Claimant) [also] claims that [he][she] sustained greater or additional injuries than what [he][she] would have sustained in the (describe accident) if the (describe product) had not been defective.].&rdquo; <i>Id.</i>at 403.2.&nbsp;The plaintiff&rsquo;s bar is likely to advance arguments about the continued applicability of <i>D&rsquo;Amario</i>, the retroactive application of the recent abrogating statute, and evidentiary rule 403-based exclusion.<span>&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></p> <div><br clear="all" /> <hr width="33%" size="1" align="left" /> <div id="ftn1"> <p><a href="#_ftnref1" name="_ftn1" title=""><span><span><span>[1]</span></span></span></a> The Third Restatement of Torts Products Liability contains post-sale failure to warn (&sect;10), post-sale failure to recall (&sect;11, and a successor's liability for its own failure to warn (&sect;13).&nbsp;<i>See </i>Restatement (Third) of Torts: Prod. Liab. &sect; 13 (1998).</p> </div> <div id="ftn2"> <p><a href="#_ftnref2" name="_ftn2" title=""><span><span><span>[2]</span></span></span></a> Existing Florida law from the First District holds that <i>Cassisi </i>&ldquo;does not, however, sanction a jury instruction&rdquo; because to do so would be &ldquo;tantamount to directing a verdict in the product liability plaintiff's favor.&rdquo;&nbsp;<i>See Gencorp, Inc. v. Wolfe</i>, 481 So. 2d 109, 111-12 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985).&nbsp;<i>Contra Kaplan v. Daimlerchrysler, A.G.</i>, No. 02-13223, 2003 WL 22023315, at *3 (11th Cir. Aug. 1, 2003) (interpreting the First District&rsquo;s holding in <i>Gencorp </i>as not rejecting a <i>Cassisi</i>-based instruction per se in all cases but simply disapproving of the language in the particular instruction and noting that the <i>Gencorp </i>instruction failed to tell the jury that the inference was not only permissible but should be considered along with the rest of the evidence).&nbsp;</p> </div> </div>Products Liability Blog21 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0800http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=38897&format=xml&p=4149Biomechanical Experts may testify as to causation of an injuryhttp://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=34850&format=xml&p=4149<p>In civil injury litigation, and products liability in particular, expert testimony regarding the mechanism of injury can be critical to the prosecution or defense of a claim. There has been some debate among practitioners and the courts regarding whether a biomechanical expert must also be a medical doctor in order to offer opinions regarding injury causation.</p> <p>In <i>Council v. State</i>, 98 So. 3d 115 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012), Florida&rsquo;s First District Court of Appeal weighed in on this issue. The court held that a non-medical, biomechanical expert may offer opinion testimony regarding the causation of an injury. In the underlying aggravated child abuse case in which the defendant allegedly shook a child and caused a brain injury, the defense sought to introduce testimony from a PhD biomechanics expert. The defendant&rsquo;s expert proffered two opinions regarding the injuries: (1) the child could have sustained similar brain injuries by falling out of a bed; and (2) shaking alone could not have caused such injuries. The trial court excluded the expert testimony on the basis that the expert&rsquo;s opinions might confuse the jury because they could not translate into a medical diagnosis regarding the extent of the injury.</p> <p>The appellate court recognized Florida law bars non-M.D. biomechanics experts from offering opinions regarding the extent of an injury. However, the court explained that a biomechanics expert is properly qualified to offer an opinion as to the causation of an injury if the injury falls within the field of biomechanics. In this case, the expert was qualified to offer his opinions because the mechanisms of injury: a fall from bed or shaking, are within the field of biomechanics.</p> <p>While <i>Council</i> involved a criminal case, the court&rsquo;s holding is equally applicable to biomechanics experts in civil cases as well. Therefore, as long as the mechanism of the injury falls within the field of biomechanics, parties may use a biomechanics expert to offer opinions regarding injury causation. Counsel who choose to retain non-medical doctor biomechanic experts must be careful to ensure that the expert&rsquo;s opinion does not stray into areas where medical expertise is required.</p>Products Liability Blog25 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0800http://www.rumberger.com/?t=40&an=34850&format=xml&p=4149