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California Jury Returns Quick, Decisive Product Liability Defense Verdict for Goldberg Segalla Client


California Jury Returns Quick, Decisive Product Liability Defense Verdict for Goldberg Segalla Client

A federal district court jury in Southern California returned a unanimous defense verdict in favor of a Goldberg Segalla client in a product liability case, finding that extensive burn injuries suffered by a woman were not caused by a defect in the pressure cooker she was using when the accident happened.

It took the eight-member jury approximately one hour to return its decision in the case of Latanya Jenkins. v. Tristar Products, Inc., Case no. 3:20-cv-1637 (LAB).

The 53-year-old woman filed suit against Tristar Products, claiming the pressure cooker’s lid spontaneously blew under pressure, spraying her with its scalding hot contents.  Tristar disputed the claim and argued that the accident was not the result of the lid coming off under pressure but was, instead, caused by her accidentally spilling or splashing the hot contents on herself.

Plaintiff suffered second- and third-degree burns to 10 percent of her body, requiring she undergo two surgeries, including one breast reconstructive surgery. Hospitalized for two weeks, the stipulated medical expenses totaled approximately $100,000.

Defending Tristar in the case were Goldberg Segalla’s David S. Osterman and Jennifer L. Rediehs, partners in the firm’s Product Liability practice group.

The judge presiding over the case instructed the jury to use either the Consumer Expectation Test or Risk-Utility Test for determining Plaintiff’s design defect claim. The jury said in its verdict the product was not defective in its design and that the pressure cooker’s warnings were adequate and appropriate. Plaintiff’s claims for punitive damages, breach of warranty, negligence and relief under the California Legal Remedies Act were dismissed prior to trial.

The case was tried in the Southern District of California, San Diego before the Hon. Larry A. Burns, U.S.D.J. The plaintiff’s liability expert was Derek King, P.E., of Berkeley Engineering and Research. Dennis Brickman, P.E., of Engineering Systems Inc. served as the expert for Tristar. Plaintiff’s medical expert was Michael Brones, M.D.

Plaintiff asked the jury to award over $4 million.

Providing significant pre-trial support were Goldberg Segalla partner Lisa P. Gruen, and attorney Joseph R. Coriaty from the firm’s Los Angeles office, and partner Thaddeus J. Hubert IV, and attorneys John W. Meyer and Leo Capoferri from the firm’s Princeton office.