Personal jurisdiction continued to be a hotly contested issue in product liability law during the past year. Since the Supreme Court’s decisions in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746 (2014) and Walden v. Fiore, 134 S. Ct. 1115 (2014), both state and federal courts have dismissed claims brought by plaintiffs in jurisdictions in which they do not live, did not purchase or use a product, and did not suffer any injury, even where a non-resident plaintiff’s claims were joined with a resident plaintiff’s claims. However, the Supreme Court of California took a different position in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Super. Ct. of Calif., 206 Cal. Rptr. 3d 636 (2016) (cert. granted Jan. 19, 2017), holding that, in light of the defendant’s extensive contacts in California, the defendant could be subject to specific personal jurisdiction over the nonresident plaintiffs’ claims which arose from the same course of conduct that gave rise to the California plaintiffs’ claims. The Supreme Court of the United States recently granted certiorari in this case, and the decision will likely have a significant impact on product liability litigation.
This past year has also seen its share of other important decisions, most notably in the areas of federal preemption, class actions, and multidistrict litigation. In addition, challenging expert testimony on causation has remained a powerful tool for managing mass tort litigation. Finally, the recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have controlled the scope of discovery in product liability and other fact-intensive cases.
This chapter provides updates on each of the following topics:
- Personal Jurisdiction;
- Federal Preemption;
- Class Actions;
- Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Trends;
- Admissibility of Expert Causation Testimony;
- Limiting the Use of Adverse Event Reports in Litigation; and
- Federal Rules Update
This chapter appeared in the 2017 edition of The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Product Liability; published by Global Legal Group Ltd, London.