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August 2021

New York Senior Counsel Michael J. Lopes Wins Unanimous Defense Verdict Following Jury Trial in the District of Nevada

On August 17, 2021, the New York Product Liability team and its Senior Counsel Michael J. Lopes successfully obtained a unanimous defense verdict following a seven-day jury trial in the United States District Court of Nevada, on behalf of a pressure cooker manufacturer and distributor.

The plaintiff was 51 years old at the time of the incident.  She allegedly sustained severe second degree burns to her lips, neck, chest, and left arm while she was using a pressure cooker for the first time. The plaintiff alleged that after the pressure cooker finished cooking, she approached the product to open it.  She alleged that when she turned the lid, it suddenly exploded hot water onto her. The plaintiff’s daughter rushed her to a local hospital where she was transferred to another hospital’s burn unit.  She received seven days of treatment in the burn unit and claimed damages for pain and suffering associated with her burns and scarring. The plaintiff asserted a strict product liability cause of action against the pressure cooker manufacturer and distributor alleging that the product’s safety locking mechanism was ineffective. The plaintiff also alleged that the pressure cooker’s distributor violated Nevada’s Deceptive Trade Practice statute.  At trial, the plaintiff demanded $12,500,000.

At trial, Lopes established that the accident could not have happened as alleged by the plaintiff and that the plaintiff was not familiar with how to operate the pressure cooker because she only glanced at the product’s user’s manual.  Lopes also established that the experts hired by the plaintiff did not provide opinions that fit the testimony of the plaintiff and that the plaintiff’s product misuse played a role in causing her injuries.

After closing arguments, the eight-person jury needed only an hour to return a unanimous defense verdict.  This successful outcome was the product hard work through the years-long, contentious litigation. The positive result was a team effort with support from team leader Gregg Minkin, Senior Counsel James Nally, and Senior Counsel Joseph Rivera.

Gregg D. Minkin
Joseph T. Rivera Jr.