When a pacemaker malfunctioned and caused the plaintiff’s cardiac arrest, he sued the manufacturer under Texas law. The District Court dismissed all the plaintiff’s claims. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of manufacturing and marketing defect claims, but reversed with respect to his design defect and implied warranty claims.
“Harrison pleaded the EPG was defectively designed because (1) its battery did not maintain constant connection with the battery drawer, and (2) its lead connector had a propensity to, and did, corrode. These defects, he alleged, caused the EPG to fire a mistimed electrical impulse in between his heartbeats which caused his cardiac arrest. Harrison also alleged that the EPG was unreasonably dangerous because Medtronic could have mitigated this risk either by inserting a clip to hold the battery or by using a silver or copper connector less prone to corrosion. Those allegations sufficiently plead a design defect claim by alleging how the product’s design caused it to fail, how the failure caused his injury, and how Medtronic could have designed a safer product. In response, Medtronic contends that Harrison’s allegations are mere speculation thrown against the wall in the hope one theory might stick. We disagree. At this stage, we must take Harrison’s claims as true, and, viewing them as such, they sufficiently allege a design defect claim under Texas law….
“The district court found that Harrison’s implied warranty claim failed for two independent reasons. First, the court concluded Harrison’s failure to plead a defect was also fatal to his implied warranty claim. But, as discussed, Harrison did sufficiently plead a design defect, so his implied warranty claim cannot be dismissed on this basis. Separately, the court found that Harrison’s notice to Medtronic was so untimely that his warranty claim failed as a matter of law. We disagree because the court based its ruling on assumptions not warranted on a motion to dismiss. It found that Harrison informed Medtronic of the alleged defect in a July 2019 letter. Because Harrison plead the EPG was the only explainable cause for his cardiac arrest, the court assumed he must have known the device was defective when it malfunctioned in August 2017. But Harrison alleges he realized the EPG was defective only based on his cardiologist’s testimony, which occurred sometime after the malfunction. We must accept that plausible allegation as true at this stage. Furthermore, even assuming Harrison should have known the EPG was defective at the time of his cardiac arrest, Medtronic does not explain why a delay of less than two years is so unreasonable that the question must be removed from the factfinder. By failing to establish when Harrison discovered the breach and why the period between Harrison’s discovery of the breach and his giving notice was unreasonable, we cannot conclude Harrison’s notice was so unreasonable it fails as a matter of matter of law. Ultimately, of course, Harrison still bears the burden to show he did not unreasonably delay notice to Medtronic. But viewing the facts in his favor, as we must do at this stage, we conclude that Harrison alleged a valid implied warranty claim.”
Harrison v. Medtronic, No.22-10201, 2022 WL 17443711, 2022 U.S.App.LEXIS 33581 (5th Cir. Dec. 6, 2022).