Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Products Liability
USA v. Honeywell International, Inc.
The United States sued Honeywell International Inc. for providing the material in allegedly defective bulletproof vests sold to or paid for by the government. Among other relief, the government sought treble damages for the cost of the vests. It has already settled with the other companies involved, and Honeywell seeks a pro tanto, dollar for dollar, credit against its common damages liability equal to those settlements. For its part, the government argues Honeywell should still have to pay its proportionate share of damages regardless of the amount of the settlements with other companies. The district court adopted the proportionate share rule but certified the question for interlocutory review under 28 U.S.C. Section 1292(b). The DC Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and held the pro tanto rule is the appropriate approach to calculating settlement credits under the False Claims Act. The court explained that in the False Claims Act, Congress created a vital mechanism for the federal government to protect itself against fraudulent claims. The FCA, however, provides no rule for allocating settlement credits among joint fraudsters. Because the FCA guards the federal government’s vital pecuniary interests, and because state courts widely diverge over the correct rule for settlement offsets, the court found it appropriate to establish a federal common law rule. The pro tanto rule best fits with the FCA and the joint and several liability applied to FCA claims. Thus, Honeywell is entitled to offset its common damages in the amount of the government’s settlements from the other parties. View "USA v. Honeywell International, Inc." on Justia Law
United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc.
Defendants challenged a district court order requiring that they add two statements to their cigarette packages and advertisements: an announcement that a federal court has ruled that they “deliberately deceived the American public” about the dangers of cigarettes; and a declaration that they “intentionally designed cigarettes” to maximize addiction. The court concluded that given its earlier decisions in this case, the manufacturers’ objection to disclosing that they intentionally designed cigarettes to ensure addiction is both waived and foreclosed by the law of the case. Those decisions make equally clear that the district court, in ordering defendants to announce that they deliberately deceived the public, exceeded its authority under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961-1968, to craft remedies that “prevent and restrain” future violations. 18 U.S.C. 1964(a). The court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc." on Justia Law
Rollins v. Wackenhut Services, Inc., et al
Plaintiff appealed from the dismissal of wrongful death and survival actions she filed against her son's employer and two pharmaceutical companies. Plaintiff's son committed suicide using a gun provided by his employer while he was taking prescribed medication manufactured and distributed by the pharmaceutical companies. The court held that the district court did not err in ruling that plaintiff failed to state a claim of negligence against the employer when the district court invoked, sua sponte, District of Columbia law that suicide was an intervening and independent cause of death subject to limited exceptions that were inapplicable. The court declined to certify questions of negligence-liability to the D.C. Court of Appeals. The court also held that the district court did not err in ruling that the complaint failed to state a plausible claim of products liability against the pharmaceutical companies and in denying her leave to amend. View "Rollins v. Wackenhut Services, Inc., et al" on Justia Law