Fifth Circuit Affirmance of $7.5 Million Verdict
April 18, 2018 Case Study
Virginia Nester et al. v. Textron, Inc.
Beck Redden secured an appellate victory on April 18, 2018, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a $7.5 million judgment in favor of a plaintiff who suffered serious injuries in a products liability case. The case, Virginia Nester et al. v. Textron, Inc., involved important questions regarding Texas products liability law, jury charge practice in the Fifth Circuit, and evidentiary and bifurcation issues.
Beck Redden’s clients, Virginia Nester and her family members, prevailed in a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. The Nesters were awarded $7.5 million in damages. On appeal, Textron, Inc. argued that the jury’s verdict should be overturned because of alleged errors in the jury instructions, commingling of different factual theories of liability, and evidentiary and bifurcation issues.
The Fifth Circuit sided with the Nesters. The court held that the jury was properly instructed on the meaning of “safer alternative design” as required by Texas products liability law. The court also clarified circuit law regarding the commingling issue in an opinion that will be influential in future cases. Finally, the court ruled that there were no evidentiary or bifurcation-related errors. In sum, the court sided with the Nesters’ position that the district court provided a fair and balanced trial to both sides.
This decision provides important guidance to federal practitioners regarding jury charge practice, and the opinion was noted in 600 Camp, a leading law blog on commercial litigation in the Fifth Circuit. Please click below to read the blog’s noted opinion.
Beck Redden partner Russell S. Post served as lead appellate counsel and presented oral argument to the Fifth Circuit, with the assistance of appellate associate Parth S. Gejji.