United States District Court, D. Maryland
MICHAEL W. SMITH, Plaintiff,
MTD PRODUCTS, INC., et al., Defendants.
Catherine C. Blake, United States District Judge.
a case about injuries caused by an allegedly defective snow
thrower designed and manufactured by the defendants, MTD
Products Inc., MTD Consumer Group Inc., MTD Holdings Inc.,
and MTD LLC (collectively "MTD"). Pending before
the court is MTD's motion for summary judgment. For the
reasons explained below, the court will deny the motion.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
2005, plaintiff Michael W. Smith purchased an MTD Yard
Machine Snow Thrower from a retail store in Anne Arundel
County, Maryland. (Compl. ¶¶ 3, 5, ECF No. 3)..On
January 21, 2016, while Smith was attempting to re-inflate a
tire on the snow thrower, the rim of the wheel assembly
suddenly exploded, injuring him. (Id. ¶ 6).
designed and manufactured the snow thrower and its component
parts, including the wheel assembly. (Id. ¶ 7;
Defs.' Mot. at 2-3, ECF No. 44-1). On December 31, 2018,
Smith filed suit against MTD in the Circuit Court for Anne
Arundel County, alleging strict liability for a defective
product, negligence, breach of the implied warranty of
merchantability, and breach of the implied warranty of
fitness for a particular purpose. (Compl. ¶¶ 10-23,
ECF No. 3). MTD removed the case to this court, claiming
diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
(Defs.' Notice of Removal at 2, ECF No. I).
parties and events relevant to this case span several states
and two countries. MTD's various entities maintain
headquarters and principal places of business in
and Smith is a lifelong resident of Maryland. According to
the Vice President of Product Safety & Compliance for MTD
Products Inc., Daniel J. Martens, the plastic wheel rims on
the snow thrower were designed, manufactured, and tested in
Ohio, and the plastic wheel rims were assembled onto the snow
thrower at a facility in Canada. (Martens Aff. ¶¶
9-11, Defs.' Mot. Ex. A, ECF No. 44-3). MTD further
states that the snow thrower bearing the model and serial
number alleged by Smith was sold and shipped to a Home Depot
store in New Jersey. (Id. ¶ 14). It is
undisputed that Smith's injuries occurred in Maryland.
(Defs.' Mot. at 4, ECF No. 44-1).
filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the court
should apply Ohio law and find that Smith's claims are
barred by Ohio's ten-year statute of repose for product
liability actions. The motion has been fully briefed, and no
oral argument is necessary.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
should be granted "if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). "A dispute is genuine if 'a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'"
Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 313
(4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Dulaney v. Packaging Corp. of
Am., 613 F.3d 323, 330 (4th Cir. 2012)). "A fact is
material if it 'might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law. "'Id. (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986)). Accordingly, "the mere existence of some
alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat
an otherwise properly supported motion for summary
judgment[.]" Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48.
court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party, Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct.
1861, 1866 (2014) (per curiam), and draw all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor, Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (citations omitted);
see also Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the Courts,
780 F.3d 562, 568-69 (4th Cir. 2015). At the same time, the
court must "prevent factually unsupported claims and
defenses from proceeding to trial." Bouchat v. Balt.
Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 526 (4th Cir.
2003) (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774,
778-79 (4th Cir. 1993)).
Choice of Law
Lex Loci Delicti
courts sitting in diversity must apply the substantive law of
the forum state, including the forum state's choice of
law rules. Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Elect. Mfg. Co.,313 U.S. 487, 496-97 (1941); Colgan Air, Inc. v. Raytheon
Aircraft Co.,507 F.3d 270, 275 (4th Cir. 2007). For
claims in tort, Maryland follows the lex loci
delicti rule. Proctor v. Washington Metro. Area
Transit Auth.,412 Md. 691, 726 (2010) (citing
Philip Morris v. Angeletti,358 Md. 689, 744
(2000)). The lex loci delicti rule provides that
"the substantive tort law of the state where the wrong
occur[s]" governs. Philip Morris, 358 Md. at
746 (quoting Hauch v. Connor,295 Md. 120, 123
(1983). "[W]here the events giving rise to a tort action
occur in more than one State," the court must
"apply the law of the ...