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In re Coordinated Latex Glove Litigation

California Court of Appeal
121 Cal. Rptr.2d 301 (2002)


Facts

Christine McGinnis (plaintiff) filed a products liability suit against Baxter Healthcare Corporation (Baxter) (defendant) alleging that the latex gloves the company manufactured were defective in that they contained substances that caused her to develop serious allergies and forced her to leave her job as a nurse and undergo medical treatment for allergic reactions. McGinnis’ case was the first to go to trial in a group of cases in coordinated proceedings involving allegations against various defendant companies that manufactured or distributed latex gloves. At trial, McGinnis argued that the particular latex gloves containing the allergic substances, including latex proteins, caused a serious and potentially life-threatening allergy to all forms of natural rubber latex (NRL) to develop even though the individual did not have the condition prior to using the gloves. This was due, in part, to Baxter’s failure to timely implement washing or chlorinating procedures that would have greatly reduced or eliminated the allergic substances. In response, Baxter claimed that the company constantly tinkered with the procedures to get the best protein system in place that would not result in defects in barrier protection in the gloves such as pinholes or tearing. Additionally, Baxter argued that McGinnis’ claim that it was required to employ the washing procedures was not mandated by federal law. The jury found Baxter liable on the manufacturing defect claim and awarded McGinnis compensatory damages of nearly $900,000. The jury also found that Baxter had been negligent, but that there was no evidence of proximate cause and completely rejected McGinnis’ failure to warn claim. The trial court granted Baxter’s motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) on the manufacturing defect finding. McGinnis appealed. 

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Huffman, J.)

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