In a pending suit proceeding before the District Court of Harris County, Texas, USA (the “Court”), the Expert Opinion by way of Affidavit on Indian Law filed by Mr. Manoj K. Singh , (engaged by the Defendant) facilitated the Court to deny key claims of the Plaintiff.
In a nutshell, the Court had to decide on Defendant’s Motion to Take Judicial Notice of Indian Law in order to resolve a conflict of laws and to determine whether the law of India or the law of Texas should apply to the several of Plaintiff’s claims.
In the present suit, the Plaintiff had sued several Defendants (including the Defendant which engaged Mr. Singh / S&A for providing expert opinion on Indian law to the Court) inter alia alleging:
(i) Strict products liability for defective design;
(ii) Strict products liability for manufacturing defects;
(iii) Strict products liability for marketing defects;
(iv) Breach of express and Implied Warranties (of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose)
The Defendant argued that the law of India and Texas conflicted on the above said issues/claims, and that the law of India has the most significant relationship to these matters, therefore, Indian laws applies to these claims of the Plaintiff. Since Plaintiff disagreed, the Court called in expert opinion(s) on Indian laws from the parties through affidavits of Indian lawyers respectively in relation to conflict of laws over the above issues. Mr. Singh filed an Expert Affidavit submitting his opinion on the issues of strict product liability in India, privity of contract (under the Sales of Goods Act, 1930), and applicability of section 73 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, qua facts and claims in the present suit before the Court.
In relation to the first three claims noted above, the Plaintiff contended (on the basis of its expert’s affidavit) that since India also recognizes claims for strict products liability therefore there is no conflict between laws of India and Texas. On the other hand, the Defendant submitted (through Expert Affidavit of Mr. Singh) that Indian law does not recognize strict products liability on the basis of Airbus Industrie v. Linton (ILR 1994 Kar 1370). Under his Expert Affidavit, Mr. Singh rebutted the arguments put forth and the precedents used in support by the expert of the Plaintiff. The Court, relying on the Expert Affidavit of Mr. Singh in this regard, differentiated the authority relied upon by the Plaintiff on the grounds that the judgment did not discuss the doctrine of strict products liability as understood under Restatement (Second) of Torts § 402A but on the broader and more general concept of strict liability. The Court held that there is a conflict between laws of India and Texas on the issue of recognizing the cause of action for strict products liability.
The Court while deciding upon the conflict of laws concerning claim of the Plaintiff regarding breach of express and implied warranties (merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose) agreed with the principle of the privity of contract as relied upon by Mr. Singh. The Court observed that there is no contract between the Plaintiff and the Defendant since the Defendant supplied materials to a manufacturer, which modified the item and resold it to another intermediary and eventually the Plaintiff bought the finalized product from a distributor. Based on the expert opinion of Mr. Singh regarding privity of contract (under the Sales of Goods Act, 1930), applicability of section 73 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, and reviewing the facts of the case, the Court concluded that India bears the most significance relationship to the transaction and parties. The Court held that the transaction between the Plaintiff and the Defendant giving rise to any warranty claims did not bear an appropriate relationship in Texas.
Based on the Expert Evidence on Indian Law by Manoj K. Singh, Founding Partner, Singh & Associates (for the Defendant), the Court concluded that the law of India governs the Plaintiff’s claims against the Defendant for breach of express and implied warranties and that Texas law governs the Plaintiff’s claims against the Defendant for negligence and strict product liability since the place of injury is Texas.