Yet Another Twist in Pennsylvania Products Law

In the never ending saga of Pennsylvania products liability law, two district courts recently found themselves at odds once again.  As we previously posted, in July Judge John E. Jones III of the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to adopt the Restatement (Third) of Torts in March in Beard v. Johnson & Johnson, the Middle District must follow precedent and apply the Restatement (Second).

However, in the latest twist another twist, Judge Mark Hornak of the Western District of Pennsylvania chose to follow the dictates of the Third Circuit, set forth in Covell v. Bell Sports, which urges the Pennsylvania district courts to apply Sections One and Two of the Restatement (Third) of Torts.  In Lynn v. Yamaha, Judge Hornak reached the exact opposite conclusion of Judge Jones, reasoning that decisions and predictions made by the Third Circuit are binding on Pennsylvania courts unless the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules expressly to the contrary.  Given that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not specifically overthrow the reasoning in Covell to rely on Restatement (Third), Judge Hornak concluded that the district court was required to apply the principles in the Restatement (Third).

It unfortunately appears that the state of Pennsylvania products liability law will remain in flux until the state Supreme Court decides to rule on the issue.

Thanks to Remy Cahn for her contribution to this post.  If you would like further information, please write to mbono@wcmlaw.com