Articles Posted in Products Liability

The United States federal agency known as the Consumer Product Safety Commission studies the safety of products that are marketed for use in the U.S. According to the agency, property damage, injuries, and deaths related to hazardous or defective consumer products cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars each year. When a product is reported to be potentially hazardous, the CPSC will perform an investigation to determine if the product should be removed from the market by a recall. Although the CPSC has the power to enact mandatory recalls by seeking an order in federal court, the vast majority of product recalls are made voluntarily by the manufacturer. The CPSC website discusses a recently enacted voluntary recall of a childrens’ bicycle for brake-related issues.

According to the CPSC website, federal regulations require childrens’ bicycles with seat heights below 25 inches to have foot brakes on the pedals to allow children to operate the bicycle and stop safely. The recalled bicycles, manufactured by the Commencal company, only have hand brakes and are therefore not marketable in the U.S. The Commencal Ramones brand bicycles at issue were manufactured in the European country of Andorra between 2015 and 2021 and were marketed worldwide. Although the braking configurations may be acceptable in other countries, the bicycles can no longer be marketed and sold in the U.S. without modifications. According to the recall notice from the CPSC website, consumers who have purchased one of the recalled bicycles should contact the manufacturer for a free repair kit that will get the recalled bicycles into compliance with U.S. regulations once installed.

Do Companies Have a Duty to Create Safe Products?

Yes, companies that market consumer products for use in the U.S. have a duty to ensure that the product is safe for American consumers. Companies are responsible for adequately warning consumers of certain risks and dangers to their products. Some dangers or risks are too serious for a product to be marketed, and companies must work to remove or repair such products to ensure consumer safety. If a company knows of a certain hazard but fails to adequately warn consumers of the hazard and offers to repair, replace, or refund the purchase cost, the company may be liable for any harm caused by the product. Consumers who have been injured or killed by a dangerous or defective product are entitled to seek damages through a product liability lawsuit.

In February of this year, the medical device and consumer product manufacturing company Abbot Laboratories issued a voluntary recall after the FDA advised parents to stop feeding their young children certain brands of the company’s powdered baby formulas. According to a recent report by CNN, the affected brands initially included Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare. However, a few weeks later, the company then added Similac 60/40 to the list of recalled baby formulas.

The reason why the FDA issued the warning to parents earlier this year stems from several reports that young infants who consumed these products got very sick. In fact, there are at least two cases where babies died after consuming Abbott Labs baby formulas. Both of the babies died after developing an unusual infection resulting from exposure to the Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria.

What Is Cronobacter sakazakii?

Cronobacter sakazakii is a dangerous bacteria that can cause healthy adults to suffer from excruciating stomach pains and diarrhea. However, when a young infant is exposed to Cronobacter sakazakii, it can be fatal or lead to long-term health risks.

Battery explosions and subsequent fires can occur because of a variety of reasons. Those who suffer injuries because of a defective or dangerous product should consult an experienced Washington D.C. personal injury lawyer. Lithium-ion batteries present specific and serious hazard potentials. These batteries possess high voltage and stored energy in addition to a reaction component. Some lithium-ion battery companies implemented an additive membrane to reduce the dangers of these batteries; however, there remains a risk of explosion.

Are lithium-ion batteries dangerous?

Yes, while lithium-ion batteries have some features to protect from overheating during use, there are specific reasons why a defective battery can cause an explosion and fire. These batteries have unique safety issues because their materials are flammable and unstable when they reach an elevated temperature. As such, lithium-ion batteries possess all the elements to self-sustain a fire.

This holiday season, families who celebrate or observe Christmas, many families get their children to participate in holiday activities or traditions such as writing letters to Santa about their holiday wish lists. What happens, however, when a cute idea or activity turns into a dangerous hazard?

According to a recent report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a “letters to Santa” mailbox sold at Target was recently recalled. On December 10, 2021, the CPSC recalled the Bullseye Playground brand letters to Santa mailbox, citing that the mail slot on the box could be sharp and pose a laceration hazard. According to the agency, roughly 174,300 were sold in stores and consumers can seek refunds directly from the store. Across the country, Target received nine reports of sharp mail slot openings and seven incidents of lacerations. Of these seven incidents, three lacerations required medical attention.

Unfortunately, because these mailboxes were sold nationwide, Washington, D.C. residents should remain vigilant if you or your loved ones or friends purchased these items. Because many items in addition to these mailboxes often also have faulty designs or manufacturing defects that could cause injury to consumers, it is important to know what your options are if you are ever injured by a product you purchase.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works to protect public health and promote public safety by ensuring the efficacy and safety of human and veterinary products and medical devices. The FDA approves drugs after determining that the benefits outweigh the risks; however, in some cases, the full extent of the risks does not become apparent until after many years of consumer use. While warnings may limit the amount of liability, a manufacturer has, those who have suffered injuries because of an unsafe product should contact a Washington D.C. product liability attorney.

The FDA must provide pre-clinical data to establish that the products have been tested on laboratory animals before moving on to the new drug approval process. Drug companies must report any adverse side effects, especially those that can cause life-threatening injuries such as hospitalization or congenital disabilities. Further, the FDA provides varying information and warnings to consumers ranging from medication guides, consumer medication information, nonprescription drug facts, and boxed warnings. Boxed warnings tend to follow post-market surveillance, which includes evaluating FDA’s computerized database and MedWatch. In some cases, the FDA may recall or withdrawal a medication or device.

For instance, the FDA recently told manufacturers that they must warn patients of the risk of breast implants. According to a national news outlet, regulators placed the black box warnings and told companies that they could only sell the products to medical providers who review the risks with patients before surgery. In addition to the warnings, providers must allow patients to review a new checklist that advises patients of the various risks. The checklist identifies certain types of patients who are at an increased risk for illness after implant surgery. These patients include those who have autoimmune conditions or have undergone chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Throughout recent years baby and infant product manufacturers have recalled many of their products. Many of these recalls have come in response to a series of injuries and deaths related to their products. While no amount of money can repay families for their immense loss, Washington D.C. product liability claims may provide families with a way to address the financial cost of these injuries and losses.

Consumers who purchase products, especially products for their infants and children, rightfully assume that product manufacturers went through the appropriate safeguards to ensure that their products are appropriate for the public. However, in some cases, products bypass these safety checks and enter the consumer stream. These unsafe products may be defective or dangerous because of their design, manufacturing, or warnings.

In recent history, many prominent infant and children product manufacturers have recalled their products. For example, Boppy Co., a leading manufacturer of infant carriers and nursing pillows recalls over 3 million newborn loungers. The U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled various infant loungers after the products were linked to eight deaths between 2015 and 2020. According to reports, the infants suffocated after being placed on their stomachs, sides, or back. While the company expressed its remorse for the deaths, they asserted that the products were not advertised as sleeping products, and they have a clear warning against using the product unsupervised. The CPSC stated that consumers should cease using the product and contact the company for a refund.

Washington D.C product liability claims generally arise after a person suffers injuries or dies because of a design defect, manufacturing defect, or inadequate warning. Product liability generally applies to the legal responsibility that a product’s designer, manufacturer, distributor, or retailer has towards consumers. The premise of the theory is that consumers have a right to safe and effective products.

Failure to warn claims involve situations where a consumer suffers injuries or dies because of an inadequate or missing warning. The claims can survive despite the product’s appropriate design and manufacture. Manufacturers must clearly warn consumers of any known or potential hazards associated with the product. Further, manufacturers must include instructions on how to use the product appropriately.

Injury victims or their families must establish that the product contains a defect that makes it unreasonably dangerous, the defect was present when the product left the manufacturer, and the defect caused the victim’s injuries and damages. Companies must clearly convey the warning to customers. Courts will generally look to the totality of the circumstances when determining whether a warning was sufficient. However, it is essential to note that manufacturers do not need to warn consumers of apparent dangers. For example, a switchblade company does not need to warn customers that the blade is dangerous. However, a pharmaceutical company should warn consumers that taking a particular medication may impair their driving.

When someone experiences illness, disease or death because of a contaminated or unsafe food product, discovering who was liable and recovering damages can be challenging. Determining liability among parties throughout the food supply chain is complicated and requires a comprehensive understanding of complex tort laws. The first step in developing a solid case is establishing which type of defect caused the claimant’s injuries. Generally, product liability defect claims stem from design defects, manufacturing defects, or marketing defects. In the case of food contamination, the majority of cases arise from manufacturing defects. These claims fall under one or more legal theories, including negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty.

Many product liability lawsuits involve:

  • Defective infant items
  • Electrical machines
  • Poorly designed car parts
  • Recalled drugs and devices

While all of these claims present unique challenges, product liability lawsuits involving contaminated food present victims with arduous evidentiary issues; even if a food manufacturer or distributor recalls a contaminated food item, injury victims must still meet strict requirements to recover damages successfully.

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Every day, many Washington, D.C. residents use Amazon’s website to do their online shopping. Shoppers purchase books, clothing, technology, household supplies, and more on the online marketplace. Some items are sold by Amazon themselves, but many are sold instead by third-party sellers on the Amazon website. But sometimes, individuals may be sold defective or dangerous products and find themselves injured as a result. In these situations, injured shoppers may want to file a personal injury lawsuit against the seller or the manufacturer of the products and against Amazon themselves in the case of third-party sellers. But it can be confusing to know when Amazon can be held liable in these products’ liability suits and when they cannot.

For example, take a recent state appellate case. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff in the case purchased a hoverboard on Amazon’s website in late November of 2015. When the hoverboard had not arrived by mid-December, the plaintiff sent an email to the third-party seller through Amazon’s website. Five days later, she received the hoverboard, which she gifted to her son for Christmas. On New Year’s Eve of that year, her son plugged it into an outlet, which started a fire. Loomis suffered burns to her hand and foot as a result. She brought a personal injury lawsuit against Amazon the next year on a theory of strict liability. Amazon filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted, dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint.

On appeal, the appellate court reversed. The court explained that Amazon could be held strictly liable under that state’s law—meaning held liable even without a showing of fault—for defects in a product if they were in the chain of production and marketing of the product. And the court found that Amazon was in that chain; Amazon interacted with the customer, took the order for the hoverboard, processed the order to the third-party seller, collected the money for the order, and was paid a percentage of the sale. In fact, over a two-month period in which this specific hoverboard was sold, the seller sold over $736,000 in hoverboards. Amazon received over $110,000 in fees from those sales for just that two-month period. Because of these connections, sufficient to establish themselves in the chain of production and marketing of the product, the court held that the trial court had incorrectly granted Amazon’s motion for summary judgment and reversed, meaning the plaintiff should be able to proceed forward with her claim.

After a person encounters a defective or dangerous product, they may suffer serious physical injuries, property damage, and psychological trauma. The long-standing effects of these accidents may result in significant medical expenses, lost wages, and similar financial difficulties. Those who suffer injuries because of a defective product should contact a Washington, D.C. product liability attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

Product liability broadly refers to the legal responsibility of those that are in the chain of design, production, or distribution of a product. While most Washington, D.C. product liability claims fall under the theory of strict liability, some involve general negligence theories and breach of warranty claims. Negligence cases usually involve allegations of a product’s defective design, manufacturing defect, or failure to warn. In contrast, strict liability claims do not require a plaintiff to establish that a manufacturer or seller was negligent. Instead, these claims hinge on the unreasonably dangerous or defective nature of the products. Proving an item was “unreasonably dangerous” requires a thorough and nuanced understanding of complex product liability laws.

For instance, a recent appellate court opinion addressed whether a plaintiff presented legally sufficient evidence to support their design defect claim. The case arose after an HVAC technician purchased an installed air conditioning unit compressor that became overheated and ignited the technician in flames. The technician filed a lawsuit against the product manufacturer, arguing that the terminal they used in the unit was unreasonably dangerous. In support of this claim, he asserted that parts manufacturers made two parts for the same cost, but the older design was more prone to failure. The technician claimed that the company’s decision to use the older design created an unreasonably dangerous product. A jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and after analyzing a series of complex evidentiary and legal arguments, the court ultimately affirmed the lower court’s ruling in favor of the plaintiff.

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