Plaintiff American Automobile Insurance Company, as assignee of Fred and Adrienne Kostecki v. Omega Flex, Inc.
Plaintiff American Automobile Insurance Company, as assignee of Fred and Adrienne Kostecki, brought this subrogation action against Omega Flex, Inc. Plaintiff sought to recover money it paid to its insured’s, Fred and Adrienne Kostecki, to rebuild their home and replace their damaged contents, following a lightning strike to a tree on their property and a subsequent fire in their home on April 30, 2010. Plaintiff alleged the corrugated stainless steel tubing (“CSST”) manufactured by Omega Flex was defective and unreasonably dangerous, and caused the fire at the Kostecki’s home. CSST was chosen by the Kostecki’s builder to serve as their primary propane distribution system, servicing two gas-fueled fireplaces in the home.
Plaintiff originally brought suit under theories of negligent design, negligent failure to warn, strict liability – defective design, strict liability – failure to warn, and breach of express and implied warranties. In response to a Daubert motion filed by Omega Flex to exclude the opinions of Plaintiff’s sole designated design expert, the Court issued a Memorandum and Order on June 11, 2013 that precluded MIT metallurgy professor Dr. Thomas Eagar from testifying on issues involving product design and warnings. The Court simultaneously granted Omega Flex summary judgment on Plaintiff’s failure to warn and breach of warranty claims, leaving only its claims for negligent design and strict liability – defective design.
The jury deliberated for three hours on Thursday, July 11, 2013 following a four-day jury trial before the Honorable Audrey G. Fleissig in the Eastern District of Missouri, and returned a verdict in favor of Omega Flex on both negligent design and strict liability – defective design. A number of CSST industry representatives were in attendance throughout the trial.
William J. Conroy served as lead trial counsel for Omega Flex, Inc. in this case. Lynne O’Brien Ingram served as co-counsel.