Theresa Villani Wins Summary Judgment Dismissing Products Liability Case In New York County
On March 23, 2017, Theresa Villani won summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint in Salinas v. World Houseware Producing Co. Ltd., Index No. 107662/2010 (Supreme Court, New York County). In this action for products liability, the plaintiff, a Texas resident, sought damages for personal injuries which included severe burns to over 30% of her body allegedly caused by the use of a potholder designed and distributed by our client. The plaintiff claimed that as she was using a potholder to remove a pan from an electric oven, the potholder burst into flames. The plaintiff’s complaint alleged causes of action for strict products liability, negligence, breach of warranty, failure to warn and failure to recall against the manufacturer, designer/distributor and retailer. All parties submitted expert opinion evidence from cause and origin, flammable fabric and textile experts. Ms. Villani argued that the plaintiff’s complaint should be dismissed because the plaintiff’s expert testimony was completely inconsistent with plaintiff’s deposition testimony that she did not touch the heating element before the pot holder burst into flames; and that the plaintiff’s expert opinion contradicted the plaintiff’s sworn testimony and was based on speculation. Ms. Villani also argued that there were no violations of any statutes, rules or regulations, and there were no prior complaints and/or similar incidents with respect to the potholder. The Court found that the plaintiff failed to raise any material issue of fact; that any defects in the potholder alleged by plaintiff could not have been the cause of plaintiff’s injuries; and that the pot holder was not the proximate or producing cause of plaintiff’s injuries. The Court granted Ms. Villani’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.