Verne Pedro, the managing partner of Fullerton Beck’s New Jersey office, won summary judgment in a products liability case in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, filed against the firm’s client, a company that designs, builds, and delivers furniture for national restaurants, including Starbucks. The chair, in this case, was manufactured by our client’s vendor and distributed under the client’s name. 

The case involved a 60-year-old woman who was working on her computer at a Starbucks coffee shop for about one hour when the chair collapsed beneath her. The plaintiff injured her neck and back in the fall. She sued our client, alleging the chair was designed and/or manufactured in a defective condition and/or that the client failed to warn or give adequate notice of the inherently dangerous condition of this product. The plaintiff also sued Starbucks for negligence and premises liability. 

The case went through discovery. The plaintiff’s attorney failed to present any proof or expert opinions to support a theory of liability under the New Jersey Product Liability Act, never inspected the chair, and never sued the entity that actually manufactured the product. 

On the eve of arbitration, months after the close of discovery, the plaintiff attempted to amend the interrogatories with new information that she needed immediate fusion surgery for injuries related to the fall.  The defendants objected to the belated amendment, and the arbitrator agreed. 

Verne subsequently moved for summary judgment for the plaintiff’s lack of evidence to maintain a viable product liability claim. Starbucks also moved for summary judgment on the premises liability and negligence claims. Plaintiff’s counsel opposed both motions and moved to reopen discovery so he could introduce the new medical report and the plaintiff’s post-surgical reports.  

After a lengthy oral argument, the court granted Fullerton Beck’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s case against our client on the grounds that the plaintiff did not present any evidence to support her product liability claims. The court denied the motions brought by Starbucks and the plaintiff. 

Verne’s sophisticated understanding of the New Jersey Product Liability Act and his many years of experience handling matters like this set the foundation for a winning defense strategy that yielded optimal results for our client. These are the types of winning strategies FB builds into all our cases.