Ayala was killed by a propane heater explosion; his estate sued the manufacturer for damages. Ayala v. Enerco Group, 13-30532 (May 28, 2014, unpublished). Ayala’s wife testified that he was generally careful with the heater, although she did not observe him at the time of the accident. An expert identified several possible defects with the heater, but: “[There was no evidence to suggest the Ayalas’ heater itself was defective. He did not perform a structural analysis of the Mr. Heater or destructive testing of an example unit. His conclusions supporting that there could be a leak were based solely on the nature of the item itself. McPhate also admitted that he could not rule out other potential sources of a propane leak other than a defect in the heater, such as a faulty propane bottle or a failure by Mr. Ayala to secure the valve properly on the heater.” Accordingly, the estate’s claims failed. A sanctions award against the plaintiff’s counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 for filing a second lawsuit was reversed because that filing did not show a “persistent” pattern of vexatious litigation as required by that statute.
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