The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas has denied a Michigan glove manufacturer’s motion to dismiss a case filed against it by a Houston-based glass industry representative who claims the company “fraudulently marketed” its gloves as “a cut-resistant glove for safe glass handling.” Union City, Mich.-based Glove Coaters Inc. had filed a motion for dismissal in the case, filed by Anthony Lopez, who claims he was cut by a piece of glass while wearing the company’s gloves last July while working at Craftsman Fabricated Glass in Houston.
While Glove Coaters had alleged that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations place the responsibility for selecting “appropriate hand protection” on Lopez’s employer and that two prior cases back this up, the court notes that “reliance on these cases is unavailing.”
“These cases do not establish that an employer’s selection of protective clothing, as required by an OSHA regulation, shields the manufacturer of that protective clothing from liability if an employee is injured while wearing the clothing,” writes the judge.
Though the court notes that “there are few meaningful factual allegations in the Amended Complaint concerning the selection of the gloves and the cause of the injury,” the judge further reasons that Lopez’s “allegations are sufficient at this stage of this case.”
Additionally, the company had alleged “that [the] plaintiff fails to identify with sufficient particularity the pertinent defect(s) in the gloves.”
“[Lopez] alleges that [Glove Coaters] marketed and warranted its gloves as durable, cut-resistant and safe for glass handling,” writes the court. “He alleges that glass nevertheless sliced through the glove and injured his hand, thereby suggesting the glove was defective because it was inadequately resistant to piercing.
In response, the judge notes, “Although plaintiff’s complaint is not a model of clarity or detail, his theory is simple. At this time, nothing further is required for plaintiff to state a claim for relief that is ‘plausible on its face.’ After initial disclosures and discovery concerning the employer’s decision-making process is conducted, any pleading deficiencies can be addressed.”
The opinion continues, “At this early stage in the case, plaintiff has pleaded sufficient facts to give defendant notice of the alleged defect in its product and the nature of plaintiff’s claims.”