Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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To seek redress for an opioid epidemic, characterized by the Court of Appeal as having placed a financial strain on state and local governments dealing with the epidemic’s health and safety consequences, two California counties sued (the California Action) various pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, including the appellants in this matter, Actavis, Inc., Actavis LLC, Actavis Pharma, Inc., Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Watson Laboratories, Inc., and Watson Pharma, Inc. (collectively, “Watson”). The California Action alleged Watson engaged in a “common, sophisticated, and highly deceptive marketing campaign” designed to expand the market and increase sales of opioid products by promoting them for treating long-term chronic, nonacute, and noncancer pain - a purpose for which Watson allegedly knew its opioid products were not suited. The City of Chicago brought a lawsuit in Illinois (the Chicago Action) making essentially the same allegations. The issue presented by this appeal was whether there was insurance coverage for Watson based on the allegations made in the California Action and the Chicago Action. Specifically, the issue was whether the Travelers Property Casualty Company of America (Travelers Insurance) and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company (St. Paul) owe Watson a duty to defend those lawsuits pursuant to commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies issued to Watson. Travelers denied Watson’s demand for a defense and brought this lawsuit to obtain a declaration that Travelers had no duty to defend or indemnify. The trial court, following a bench trial based on stipulated facts, found that Travelers had no duty to defend because the injuries alleged were not the result of an accident within the meaning of the insurance policies and the claims alleged fell within a policy exclusion for the insured’s products and for warranties and representations made about those products. The California Court of Appeal concluded Travelers had no duty to defend Watson under the policies and affirmed. View "The Traveler's Property Casualty Company of America v. Actavis, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a products liability suit against McNeil and its corporate parent, Johnson & Johnson, after he suffered a severe reaction after taking Motrin. The Court of Appeal held that the jury's verdict finding McNeil liable for negligent failure to warn must be reversed because it was fatally inconsistent with the verdict finding McNeil not liable for strict liability failure to warn; the negligent failure to warn special verdict was also defective because of the failure to include the necessary question whether a reasonable manufacturer under the same or similar circumstances would have warned of the danger; the verdicts against McNeil for negligent and strict liability design defect, as well as against Johnson & Johnson for strict liability design defect, must be reversed, because the design defect claims were based on a theory—failure to sell dexibuprofen—that was impliedly preempted; the strict liability design defect verdicts must also be reversed because the jury found McNeil and Johnson & Johnson liable solely under the consumer expectation test, but that test did not apply when, as here, the question of design defect involved complex questions of feasibility, practicality, risk, and benefit beyond the common knowledge of jurors; and none of plaintiffs' design defect claims could be retried. View "Trejo v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law