Conn Kavanaugh’s lawyers regularly represent manufacturers, distributors, and retailers in defending against product liability claims.

Conn Kavanaugh’s lawyers regularly represent manufacturers, distributors, and retailers in defending against product liability claims.  Our experience encompasses a broad range of products, including motor vehicles, complex manufacturing machinery, construction tools, consumer products, medical devices, toxic torts, and chemical exposures.

Whether the claim involves property damage or personal injury, our attorneys understand how important it can be to stand behind a product.  We know the effort that goes into the design, manufacture, marketing, and sale of a product and what it takes to properly defend those efforts.

As a result of our years of experience in this area, we are well-versed in the applicable case law and legal doctrines relative to product liability claims.  We maintain close working relationships with prominent experts in the many fields that are routinely involved in the defense of product liability claims, including accident reconstruction, human factors, occupant kinematics, biomechanical engineering, fire cause and origin, epidemiology, pathology, electrical and mechanical systems, manufacturing processes, industrial safety, as well as warnings and code compliance.

We work closely with our clients to prepare a fulsome defense of product liability claims, and to posture each matter for an appropriate resolution based on the client’s needs and objectives.


  • For an automobile manufacturer, successfully resolved allegations of lack of crashworthiness and design defect allegations before judge during weeklong jury selection.
  • Won defense verdict in multiple wrongful death suit in 4-week jury trial presentation asserting correlation between fuel-fed fire and DOT’s safety recall of engine throttle.
  • Won defense verdict in two-month jury trial prosecuted by national plaintiffs’ counsel alleging that a defective design and testing protocols of a door latch led to plaintiff’s severe injury and permanent vegetative state.
  • Won defense judgment in first-in-the-nation civil trial alleging design defect allegations regarding vehicle’s air bag system for manufacturer.
  • Awarded partial summary judgment as to state court claims of a defect in the design of vehicle’s air bag system upon holding that the National Traffic & Motor Vehicle Safety Act impliedly preempted claim.
  • Obtained partial exclusion of opinions by plaintiff’s expert for lack of necessary qualifications in order to offer expert testimony on design issues.
  • Successfully argued in favor of summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims of a product defect on grounds of inadequate and insufficient expert opinions in Daubert challenge to expert witness, and due to unsubstantiated delay in expert disclosures.

Industrial Machinery

  • Defended successfully to jury verdict numerous cases involving industrial accidents in the operation of heavy duty power machinery, including press brakes, punch presses, and bending rolls.
  • Successfully argued that a lack of duty to the plaintiff and that employer’s substantial modification to industrial laminating machinery was performed independently from manufacturer’s instructions, not known or reasonably foreseeable to the manufacturer, created the hazard by which the employee sustained significant, debilitating hand injury, and was the superseding cause of the damages asserted.
  • Obtained summary judgment for manufacturer of automatic gate for plaintiff’s failure to present elements of claim as a matter of law and determination that danger of “open and obvious.”
  • Obtained dismissal of action based on lack of personal jurisdiction for foreign manufacturer upon a finding that a lack of minimum contacts and lack of purposeful availment, upon a due process analysis, could subject corporation to appear in Massachusetts.
  • Obtained dismissal of action for plaintiff’s failure to establish that a foreign corporation conducted business or had a presence in Massachusetts, or that any contacts with the state would satisfy Constitutional due process requirements. In subsequent appeal, successfully argued that plaintiff had failed to adhere to appellate procedural requirements, resulting in dismissal of appeal
  • Won federal court jury trial, successfully defending manufacturer of plumbing products against allegations of negligent manufacturing and failure of warnings as cause of extensive water damages in high-rise residential property

Medical Devices

  • Successfully argued for limitation of expert testimony on issues of causation and design defect of medical device for a failure to provide necessary indicia of reliability and validity of opinions or qualifications, leading to substantial reduction of demand and nuisance value settlement on the eve of trial.

Consumer Products

  • Jury verdict in federal trial on behalf of global manufacturer of plumbing fixtures defending against claims of design and manufacturing defect.
  • Voluntary dismissal of claims against global manufacturer of power tools for claims of significant personal injury as a result of allegedly defective circular saw, and in response to challenges to expert witnesses and lack of credible defect theory.
  • Obtained dismissal of action and cross-claims for a failure to state a cause of action, where plaintiff’s identified claims and allegations were proven to be barred by the principles of res judicata.
  • Obtained summary judgment for Korean affiliate corporation on grounds that the company did not accept successor liability nor was an agent for the conduct of business in the Commonwealth.
  • Obtained exclusion of plaintiff’s expert for failure to establish an adequate factual foundation for opinion.
  • Successfully argued for the exclusion of plaintiff’s expert testimony and entry of summary judgment for failure to adequately support expert scientific opinions and failure to demonstrate causation.

Chemical / Toxic Exposure

  • Obtained award of summary judgment upon a finding of express preemption of plaintiff’s state law damages claim pursuant to EPA’s FIFRA provisions.
  • Partial summary judgment entered on grounds of preemption under the CPSC’s Federal Hazardous Substances Act.
  • Extensive experience and successful resolution of asbestos litigation in state and federal court in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Most recent experience includes low value resolution on eve of trial following filing of 35 motions in limine on discrete issues of law that challenged plaintiff’s expert evidence, demonstrative evidence, theories of liability, damages calculations, and prior conduct of counsel at trial to minimize issues.

Other Products

  • Obtained dismissal of Complaint against aircraft component manufacturer for a lack of personal jurisdiction, where company was found to regularly solicit business in the Commonwealth but the assertion of general jurisdiction was found to offend the concept of Constitutional due process.
  • Pursued dismissal of claims made against sales, maintenance, and manufacturing agents for a failure to join indispensable parties upon a claim for breach of contract resulting from golf course owner’s default and anticipatory repudiation of lease agreements.
  • Within a statutory product liability action, successfully pursued third-party claim for common-law indemnification against component manufacturer of fishing boat steering wheel.

Related Issues

  • Won defense verdict following 3-week federal court jury trial alleging multi-million dollars in commercial damages for alleged breach of contract, unfair business practices, and fraudulent interference with a franchise business relationship.
  • Obtained summary judgment upon franchisees claims that termination constituted a breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violation of the Connecticut Franchise Act, and violation of Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.
  • Summary judgment granted on Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act claims on statute of limitations grounds, and failure to establish applicability of course of conduct and fraudulent concealment pursuant to applicable tolling doctrine.
  • Obtained federal injunction and monetary sanctions for infringement of trademark and trade name of global manufacturer.

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