How much has the recent Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc., Opinion changed the landscape of products liability law in Pennsylvania? So far, this opinion has resulted in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania upholding the dismissal of a manufacturer of a product involved in a serious injury even though the product was deemed defective by the plaintiff's experts. This decision was made in the recent Urbieta v. All-American Hose, LLC, et. al., case. 2019 WL 3385192 (Pa. Super. 2019).
In a strict product liability claim, compliance with government regulations and industry standards can be powerful evidence for the defense. Such evidence traditionally has been inadmissible under Pennsylvania law based on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision in Lewis v. Coffing Hoist Div., Duff-Norton Co., Inc., 528 A.2d 590 (Pa. 1987). The Court's decision in Tincher v. Omega Flex, 104 A.3d 328 (Pa. 2014), however, raises questions about the continued viability of Lewis and provides defendants with a compelling argument that this type of evidence should be admissible. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania courts have been slow to reach that conclusion, and recent Superior Court decisions cast doubt on the admissibility of such evidence, which at best remains an open issue.
Part One, a general overview of Tincher, can be found HERE.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has, after decades of only tangentially addressing clear issues with the state products liability law in the Commonwealth, at last spoken. Since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued Azzarello v. Black Brothers Co., 391 A.2d 1020 (Pa. 1979) thirty-five years ago, Pennsylvania has been one of the most plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions for product liability claims. Azzarello adopted a unique version of the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 402A, which effectively took as hard-line of a strict liability stance as is conceivable under the Second Restatement.
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