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Kerin v. Titeflex Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

November 4, 2014

TIM KERIN, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, Appellant,
v.
TITEFLEX CORPORATION t/a GASTITE, Defendant, Appellee

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS. Hon. Michael A. Ponsor, U.S. District Judge.

Kevin T. Peters, with whom Erika Todd and Arrowood Peters LLP were on brief, for appellant.

John G. Papianou, with whom Charles B. Casper, Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, LLP, Jeffrey E. Poindexter, Jodi K. Miller, Bulkley Richardson and Gelinas, LLP were on brief, for appellee.

Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Ripple[*] and Selya, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 979

LYNCH, Chief Judge.

This products liability case concerns the question of standing based on a theory of enhanced risk of future injury. Tim Kerin appeals the dismissal of his case against Titeflex Corporation t/a Gastite (" Titeflex" ) for an alleged product defect in Gastite corrugated stainless steel tubing (" CSST" ), which causes risks of CSST being vulnerable to failure after lightning strikes. The District Court of Massachusetts dismissed for lack of standing because Kerin's injury was too speculative. Kerin v. Titeflex Corp., No. 13-cv-30141-MAP, 2014 WL 67239, at *1-2 (D. Mass. Jan. 7, 2014).

We do not hold that increased risk of harm from product vulnerability to lightning strikes can never give rise to standing. But in this case, Kerin fails to allege either facts sufficient to assess the probability of future injury or instances of actual damage where the cause is clear, and concedes that CSST meets applicable regulatory standards specifically addressing the risk.

We affirm dismissal based on lack of standing.

I.

Facts & Procedural Background

Kerin owns a house in Florida which has Gastite CSST installed to provide gas for his outdoor firepit. His complaint purported to bring a class action against Titeflex, the manufacturer of Gastite, for an alleged product defect. He brought the claim under diversity jurisdiction in Massachusetts, where Titeflex is located.

Introduced in the 1980s, CSST is used in home and commercial structures throughout the country. It has since been discovered that CSST may fail when exposed to electrical insult, such as that caused by lightning. See Nat'l Fire Prot. Ass'n, NFPA 54 FAQs ΒΆ 6 [hereinafter NFPA 54 FAQs], available at ...


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