An appellate court in Jackson, Tennessee reversed a 2017 jury verdict against Navistar Inc. that held the commercial truck and engine manufacturer liable for $31 million in actual and punitive damages. The underlying trial involved a commercial dispute regarding the reliability of trucks purchased by the plaintiff, Milan Supply Chain Solutions and manufactured by Navistar. Milan argued at trial that Navistar had committed fraud and violated Tennessee’s consumer protection laws when selling 234 Class 8 trucks, claiming that the manufacturer knew the engines on the trucks were defective when they were sold. In the appellate decision filed August 14th, the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Jackson ruled that the trial court erred at least twice, in that the economic loss doctrine barred fraud claims, and the consumer protection act does not cover commercial vehicles. Further, the panel affirmed the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees in favor of co-defendant and dealer Volunteer International, Inc., whom Milan sued without grounds.
Lead trial lawyer, Jeff Patterson, said, “We are relieved and grateful that the Court of Appeals corrected this irrational verdict. In at least seven venues around the country, trial courts and a jury have ruled for Navistar just as this appellate panel did. It’s a shame to have wasted so much in public and private resources on this case.”
In addition to the Hartline Barger team of Jeff Patterson, Clayton Callen and Tyler Stuart, Navistar was represented by Roman Martinez and Kevin Jakopchek of Latham & Watkins LLP, and Eugene N. Bulso Jr. and Paul J. Krog of Leader Bulso & Nolan PLC.
Law 360’s coverage of the decision can be found here (paywall)