Hood Law Firm and Ellis & Winters LLP Obtain Summary Judgment in a Wrongful Death Product Liability and Successor Liability Case in Federal Court in North Carolina

May 1, 2018 06:09 PM

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IADC member Robert (Bobby) H. Hood, Jr. of Hood Law Firm (IADC Products Subcommittee) and IADC members Mary M. Dillon and Andrew S. Chamberlin (IADC Board Member) of Ellis & Winters LLP and their colleague Christopher Jackson successfully represented a parent company and three subsidiary companies in a wrongful death action in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. 

The subsidiaries provide equipment and services to the electric utility, telecommunications, and construction industries, including aerial lift equipment. One of the subsidiaries had purchased the assets of a competitor company that made aerial bucket lift trucks used for trimming trees. That competitor company had designed, manufactured, and sold the bucket lift at issue in the case a year and a half before the asset purchase occurred. Five years after the asset purchase, a lower cylinder on the lift failed resulting in a fatality. Plaintiff (the widow of the decedent) claimed that that the parent company and subsidiaries should be held responsible for an aerial lift that they did not design, manufacture, or sell because of the asset purchase. Hood, Dillon, Chamberlin, and Jackson successfully obtained summary judgment for their clients on the issues of successor liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment of an insurance policy, and unfair and deceptive trade practices. Critically, the Middle District upheld the long-standing rule in North Carolina that a corporation that purchases all or substantially all of the assets of another corporation is generally not liable for the old corporation’s debts or liabilities.

To see a copy of the decision, click here.

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