Horvitz & Levy persuaded the Court of Appeal to affirm a judgment of dismissal in a products liability lawsuit involving dental crowns.
Plaintiff was informed by her dentist in 2010 that she needed dental crowns. Plaintiff, herself a dental hygienist, told the dentist she wanted to have crowns made from a “high noble” alloy. The Argen Corporation supplied the metal alloys that a dental lab used to make the crowns. After having the crowns placed, plaintiff complained to her dentist about pain and other symptoms she attributed to the crowns. Several years after having the crowns placed, she had them removed, but then delayed further before having the crowns tested in order to determine their content. Eventually, she discovered that they contained about 3% palladium, which is somewhat higher than normally associated with crowns made from a high noble alloy. A subsequent skin test revealed an allergy to palladium.
Over two years after having the crowns removed, plaintiff filed a complaint against her dentist, the lab, and Argen. The trial court granted summary judgment on plaintiff’s products liability claims on ground that they were barred by the two-year statute of statute of limitations for personal injury actions. The trial court also dismissed plaintiff’s fraud claims on the basis that Barton did not plead the alleged fraud with sufficient specificity, and likewise dismissed her unfair competition claims based on the statute of limitations.
Plaintiff appealed and Horvitz & Levy represented Argen on appeal. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that by May 2012, plaintiff was on inquiry notice of any potential claims she may have had arising from her dental crowns and had the opportunity to obtain further information from sources open to investigation. Therefore, the complaint filed more than two years later, in August 2014, was untimely. Additionally, the court agreed that Barton did not plead fraud with sufficient specificity because she did not allege that Argen (which had no communications with Barton prior to placement of the crowns) made any representations on which she relied.