Tim Kerin, a homeowner in Florida, had an outdoor fire pit equipped with gas. Gastite CSST is used in home and commercial structures throughout the country in order to provide gas. Mr. Kerin brought suit against Titeflex Corporation for an alleged product defect in Gastite corrugated stainless steel tubing. In essence, the complaint alleges that there is a severe risk of CSST being vulnerable to failure after lightning strikes.
The suit, which was originally filed in federal court in Massachusetts, was dismissed due to lack of standing. As we previously discussed, the justiciability requirement of standing requires an individual to have a concrete injury prior to bringing a suit. The court dismissed Mr. Kerin’s injury as being speculative. Mr. Kerin, on appeal, argues that lightning strikes can cause an electrical arc that punctures CSST which can ignite the natural gas contained within it. Additionally, he argued that the CSST’s risks are well established and that experts have recommended several possible remedies for the problem including outright removal.
Mr. Kerin alleged four caused of action predicated on Massachusetts law against the manufacturer- based on the notion of CSST’s susceptibility to lightning strikes: “strict liability for design and manufacturing defects, negligence in design[ing] and failing to test the product, negligence in failure to warn, and strict liability in failure to warn.” It should be noted that Mr. Kerin did not plead, nor did he claim, that the susceptibility of his own CSST to lightning strikes has manifested in any actual, tangible, harm. However, in an effort to circumvent and prevent and future harm- he is seeking damages for the cost of remedying the issue.
The district court in dismissing the case believed that the standing requirement could not be met because it was currently subject to too much conjecture. The court held that ‘injury’ was too attenuated as it would take a lightning strike and a puncturing of the CSST to result in the sort of harm that is necessary to maintain a suit. Additionally, the court concluded that even if there was standing, Kerin failed to state a claim because he failed to allege an applicable standard of care “as required to claim economic injury from a defective product under Massachusetts law.” Continue reading →