Legal Memorandum: Products Liability Cases in MO

Issue: What is considered the controlling standard: the single-product rule or Other Similar Incidents (OSI) as it relates to products liability cases in Missouri?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Products liability cases; Single-product rule; Other similar incidents (OSI)
Jurisdiction: Federal, Missouri
Cited Cases: 168 S.W.3d 481
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 12/01/2013

Missouri’s Western District recently rejected the “single-product rule” in favor of a much broader view on the admissibility and discoverability of other similar incidents (OSI) in products liability cases.  See Stokes v. Nat’l Presto Indus. Inc., 168 S.W.3d 481, 484-86 (Mo. App. W.D. 2005), transfer denied (Mo. Aug. 30, 2005).

In Stokes, a products-liability case involving OSI evidence, the court concluded that a trial court “abused its discretion” by adopting and applying a “single product rule,” that “restricted evidence of previous incidents to those involving Kitchen Kettle units, [the model of the device that allegedly injured plaintiff].”  Id. at 484.  Instead, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the proper standard is simply that if the other incidents—even those that involve other model products—are substantially similar, plaintiff should be able to present evidence of them and certainly is entitled to propound discovery related to these other incidents.  Id. at 484, 485-86.  The Missouri Supreme Court did not take the subsequent appeal.


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