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April 1, 2014

Case Report

Sugarman Rogers lawyers win dismissal of “False Alarm” product suit

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Sugarman Rogers’ David Barry and Gwen Nolan King have obtained a victory for a Sugarman Rogers client in a product-liability case attempting to link an automobile accident to a false alarm at a school. The plaintiff in the case was seriously injured while attempting to cross a roadway, when he was struck by a police cruiser that was responding to a fire alarm at the nearby school. There turned out to be no fire, and the plaintiff alleged that a “pump controller” that was a component of the school’s alarm system was defective and triggered the false alarm. The plaintiff sued the manufacturer of the controller, Sugarman Rogers’ client, claiming that it should be liable for causing the traffic accident.

Sugarman Rogers persuaded the federal judge hearing the case that the connection plaintiff’s claim sought to draw was too tenuous to be permissible under applicable legal principles. The judge held that “although causation is generally left to a jury to decide,” in this case it was appropriate to dismiss the matter because plaintiff’s theory would “stretch the notion of proximate cause far beyond anything recognized by Massachusetts law.”

Order re: Motions to Dismiss