New York Associate Shannon Dempsey Prevails on Appeal in Ninth Circuit on Behalf of Pressure Cooker Manufacturer

November 2023

The Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani New York Product Liability team and its Associate Shannon Dempsey prevailed on an appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming a jury verdict in a product liability case brought against the firm's client, a pressure cooker manufacturer, in the United States District Court of Nevada.

The plaintiff’s appeal involved a lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged that a defectively designed pressure cooker exploded and caused her serious injuries. Following a week-long jury trial, during which the plaintiff demanded $12,500,000 to settle, GRSM secured a defense verdict. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the district court erred by not dismissing the defendants' affirmative defense of misuse because there was no evidence that the plaintiff’s alleged misuse was unforeseeable, a necessary element of the defense. GRSM successfully argued in response that the plaintiff’s appeal should be denied because ample evidence was submitted at trial for a jury to find that the plaintiff simply spilled the hot contents of the pressure cooker on herself, without even reaching the misuse affirmative defense. GRSM also successfully argued that the district court properly left it to the jury to determine whether the plaintiff’s misuse was unforeseeable. 

The plaintiff also appealed on the grounds that the co-defendant’s counsel made an improper reference to the plaintiff’s religious affiliation during opening statements. In response, GRSM successfully argued that the single reference to the plaintiff’s religious affiliation did not warrant a reversal of the jury verdict, where the plaintiff’s own counsel mentioned religion in their opening statement, and the statement was not done to prejudice the plaintiff. 

Less than ten days after oral argument, the Court of Appeals denied the plaintiff’s appeal. 

This successful outcome was obtained with the assistance of team leader, Partner Gregg Minkin, Partner Joseph T Rivera Jr., and paralegal Josue Perez. A copy of the court's decision can be read here.