Articles Posted in Dangerous Products

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When someone is injured while using a product, that person is entitled to file a product liability case against the manufacturer of the allegedly dangerous product to seek compensation for their injuries. In most cases, the injured party will not need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent; however, an injured party will need to prove that the product was unreasonably dangerous.

CourtroomFlorida courts allow product liability plaintiffs to prove dangerousness in one of two ways:  the risk-utility test or the consumer-expectations test. A recent Florida appellate court opinion briefly mentions each test and notes how under the current state of the law, a jury may be instructed on the elements of both tests.

Florida’s Risk-Utility Test

One way in which a Florida product liability plaintiff can establish that a product was dangerous is through the risk-utility test. This test asks the jury to consider the risks posed by a product’s design and weigh those risks against the benefits of the design. Courts applying this test look at a number of factors, such as the obviousness of the danger presented by the product and the availability of other reasonable designs that may be less dangerous. Since it can be argued that most products present some risk, this test is less plaintiff-friendly in most circumstances.

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Last month, a federal appellate court decided a case involving a man’s claims against the manufacturer of a cleaning solution that spontaneously combusted when he was using the product to clean his basement floor. In the case, Suarez v. W.M. Barr & Co., the plaintiff filed three related product liability claims against the manufacturer of the “Goof Off” brand cleaning solution. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff presented enough evidence on two of the claims to proceed. However, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s failure-to-warn claim, based on the adequacy of the warning on the product’s label.

FireThe Facts of the Case

Suarez was using “Goof Off” brand cleaning solution to clean his basement floor. Like any responsible homeowner, Suarez read the instructions on the product’s packaging prior to using the product. In preparation, he opened several windows and the door to the basement to allow ventilation, as the instructions recommended.

Following the instructions, Suarez poured the cleaning solution onto the basement floor and used a broom to evenly spread a thin layer of the solution across the entire floor. However, as Suarez was brushing the solution, it caught fire, severely burning him. After he recovered, Suarez filed this case against the manufacturer.

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Over the past few months, Johnson & Johnson has been found liable in several product liability lawsuits, based on the continued use of its talc-based baby powder. According to one recent financial news source, the company was most recently found liable for over $67 million, which puts the total amount for all of the baby powder lawsuits brought against the company at about $195 million.

GavelThe cases proceed under a product liability theory and rely on recently discovered evidence that the continued use of talc-based products can result in certain kinds of cancer. Specifically, the research indicates that the use of baby powder in women’s genital areas can lead to ovarian cancer. There are currently about 2,500 lawsuits pending filed by women who have suffered from various sicknesses – mostly ovarian cancer – after the continued use of the product.

Johnson & Johnson denies that its product causes cancer. According to the news source, the company plans to appeal the most recent ruling, based on an alleged tainting of the jury pool. Johnson & Johnson claims that the woman’s lawyers ran several ad campaigns prior to her trial in the jurisdiction where the trial took place. The woman’s lawyers deny the company’s claim, and a court has yet to rule on the issue. For now, all of the verdicts in favor of the plaintiff will stand.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a product liability case, holding that a new trial was not warranted because any questionable evidence that was admitted by the trial judge had only a speculative effect on the jury’s verdict. In the case, Coterel v. Dorel Juvenile Group, the court skipped analyzing whether the evidence at issue should have been admitted, and it focused only on the effect that it had on the jury. Since the court determined that the plaintiff failed to prove that the jury relied on the evidence in question, the court held that even if the evidence were improperly admitted, a new trial was not warranted.

Open Door

The Tragic Facts of the Case

The Coterels were given a door-knob guard manufactured by the defendant as a gift. The guard was designed to prevent young children from unlocking doors and getting out of a home unsupervised. On the day in question, the Coterel’s young son successfully negotiated the door-knob guard, escaped from the home, and drowned in a nearby pond. The Coterels filed a product liability case against the defendant manufacturer, alleging that the defendant’s dangerous product caused their son’s death.

At trial, the defendant manufacturer wanted to provide the court with evidence that the Coterels knew that their son had successfully disengaged the door-knob guard in the past. The defendants also had evidence that the parents normally locked the deadbolt in addition to using the door-knob guard, but on the day in question they forgot to lock the deadbolt. This evidence was obtained in post-incident interviews with the Coterels that were unrelated to the personal injury lawsuit.

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The Federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit just handed down a decision affirming a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in a birth injury lawsuit stemming from the use of Topamax by pregnant women. According to one news source covering the case, the young plaintiff in the case was born with a cleft palate as well as a cleft lip after her mother took Topamax during the first trimester of pregnancy. The jury’s verdict was split; $1.5 million was designated to go to the parents to help pay for the future care of their child, and $1.5 million was designated to go to the young girl herself to help compensate her for her non-economic damages.

Purple PillsThe Facts of the Case

Back in 2007, the plaintiff’s mother was taking Topamax for her migraine headaches. In December of that year, she learned that she was pregnant with the plaintiff. She discussed the use of Topamax with her doctor, and she was advised to taper off the use but not to stop taking the medication altogether.

When the plaintiff was born, she suffered from a cleft palate and a cleft lip. To this day, she has undergone 14 surgeries to help correct the injuries with which she was born. However, she still suffers from hearing loss and speech problems. Her parents told the court that she is teased and bullied by other children as a result of her appearance and speech.

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Over the past few years, it has come out that the birth control medication, Essure, can cause a host of very serious negative side effects, including severe pain and bleeding, unplanned pregnancies, miscarriages, and still births. In response to the increasing number of women who say they have been negatively affected by Essure, as well as the research indicating the same, the Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it will not be issuing a recall. Instead, it plans to implement a “black box” warning.

banner-1165980_960_720The Black Box warning, according to the FDA, is the most serious warning that they can issue for a prescription medication. In fact, the warning requires that doctors get a patient’s written consent to take the drug after they have been made aware of all the potential side effects the drug can have. However, for the thousands of women who have already suffered from the side effects they claim came about from their use of Essure, the recent action by the FDA is too little, too late.

According to another news source, plus an advocate group comprised of women who have used Essure and experienced negative results, the warnings being given to patients will not be sufficient to illustrate the likelihood or the severity of any potential negative side effects they may experience. The group claims that the waivers will just be seen as another deluge of paperwork that patients are constantly requested to sign, and the importance of the danger will ultimately be overlooked.

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OxyContin is one of the best selling prescription pain medication on the market today. Due to the drug’s extended release capabilities, it offers patients up to 12 hours of pain relief with just one pill. However, this same attribute makes it a favorite among those looking for a quick and easy high. In fact, so many people have become addicted to the drug that the State of Kentucky brought a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the drug, Purdue Pharmaceuticals.

pills-1023897-mAccording to a report by Insurance Journal, the lawsuit was filed in a small, rural Kentucky courthouse where many of the residents have been, or know people who have been, addicted to the drug. The claim alleges that the manufacturer misled doctors and pharmacists into believing that the drug was a less addictive and equally effective alternative to other pain medications. However, recent research has proven those assertions to be patently false.

Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee are three of the top five states for use of prescription pain medication, and Purdue Pharmaceuticals is claiming that they will not be able to receive a fair trial in Kentucky as a result. However, in a series of preliminary decisions, the presiding judge seems likely to require Purdue to take the case to trial in the rural Kentucky town.

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Earlier this month, the manufacturer of several hip replacement parts settled a lawsuit with thousands of patients who had one of two of the manufacturer’s models used in their hip replacements. According to a report by MLive.com, the medical-device manufacturer Stryker instituted a voluntary recall back in 2012 for two of its more popular models, the Rejuvenate and ABG II artificial hip implants.

knee-x-ray-2-391481-mEvidently, these two models were metal-on-metal hip replacements, and the metal was prone to “corroding and fretting,” causing pain and swelling in the patients’ hip areas. It is not clear how much each patient stands to receive in the settlement offer, but there is some indication that certain patients may receive up to $500,000.

As for those patients who had the hip replacement and needed to get it removed, the base settlement will be around $300,000. The deadline for filing a claim is March 2015. The manufacturer is expecting to pay out over $1 billion in settlements over the course of the recall.

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Honda Motor Company, as well as the manufacturer of airbags used in Honda vehicles, may be facing a series of lawsuits for defective airbags used in certain vehicles. While there have not yet been widespread reports of injuries or deaths stemming from the recalled airbags, one woman recently filed suit against both Honda and Takata Industries, the airbag manufacturer.

airbag-control-743960-mAccording to a report by one South Florida news source, a woman was involved in a minor accident. The accident probably should not have resulted in the airbag deploying, but it did. The woman’s attorney claimed that “As soon as the airbag deployed, a piece of metal shot through and it struck her in the forehead.” The woman still has a large scar on her forehead as a result.

Another person was actually killed not long ago in a similar incident. The airbag deployed, and a metal shard came out of the bag, piercing the driver’s neck. She died as a result of her injuries.

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