Sinclair v. Merck & Co., the seminal New Jersey Supreme Court case confirming that the New Jersey Products Liability Act (PLA) is the “sole source of remedy” in a products liability action, is about to turn 10 years old. Once a hotly contested holding, Sinclair is now a settled part of New Jersey products liability jurisprudence that courts routinely and broadly apply to narrow the claims in a PLA suit to prevent double recovery for the same alleged harm.
Recently, New Jersey courts have relied on Sinclair’s reasoning to resolve important products liability questions, including the scope of the PLA and standing to assert a PLA claim. Sinclair and its progeny remain significant in today’s legal landscape in light of the United States Supreme Court’s recent jurisdictional holdings in Daimler AG v. Bauman and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, which could increase the number of cases filed in New Jersey against companies that are incorporated or have a principal place of business here. As a result, it is critical for courts to continue to apply Sinclair and the PLA to allow only appropriate products liability claims.