• PA Supreme Court Allows Superior Court Opinion in Amato to Stand
  • December 30, 2016 | Author: Timothy D. Rau
  • Law Firm: Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. - Philadelphia Office
  • In a one-page Order entered on November 22, 2016, the court dismissed the appeals in the consolidated cases of Amato and Vinciguerra as "having been improvidently granted." The effect of the dismissal is that the Superior Court's opinion in the case stands and the Superior Court's ruling that Tincher applies to product liability cases based on a failure to warn theory.

    The Pennsylvania Superior Court opinion, Amato v. Crane/Vinciguerra v. Crane, 2015 PA Super. 83, involved appeals from jury verdicts of $2.5 million and $2.3 million that were tried in Philadelphia in February 2013 before the Honorable Mark Bernstein.

    The Superior Court opinion is most notable because of the panel's finding that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling in Tincher v. Omega Flex, 104 A.2d 328 (2014) applied to product liability cases alleging that a product was defective because of a failure to warn. In November 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued the Tincher opinion, which declined to adopt the Third Restatement of Torts but overruled the law of Azzarello v. Black Brothers, 391 A.2d 1020 (Pa. 1978). Azzarello had previously prevented a jury from taking questions of risk and utility of a product into consideration in a product liability case. The Tincher court held that a jury can take risk and utility into account when determining if a product is defective and "unreasonably dangerous."

    The court noted that Tincher established that questions of whether a product is unreasonably dangerous and defective is now generally a question of fact for a jury. In doing so, the court rejected the plaintiffs' arguments and held that Tincher applied to failure to warn cases.