Articles Posted in Dangerous Products

When someone suffers injuries as a result of a defective or dangerous product, the potential defendants that may be held liable range from the company that designed the product to the manufacturer and even the retailer. Product liability cases involving product defects can arise from defects in manufacturing or defects in the product’s design. Manufacturing defect cases involve a defect in a product caused when the product was not manufactured according to its intended design. In contrast, design defect cases involve a defect in a product caused when the product’s design was unreasonably dangerous. There can also be marketing defects in cases in which there was an insufficient warning of the product’s dangers.

Cup of CoffeeIn an Illinois defective design case, a plaintiff must prove that the product had an unreasonably dangerous condition, the condition existed when the product left the defendant’s control, and the condition caused the plaintiff’s injuries. There are different tests courts use to determine whether a product is “unreasonably dangerous.” Under the consumer-expectation test, the question is whether a product failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect. In contrast, under the risk-utility test, the question is whether a product’s risks outweighed its benefits. The risk-utility test considers a number of different factors, including the feasibility of alternate designs, whether the design conformed to industry standards, the utility of the product, the likelihood of injury, and the manufacturer’s ability to eliminate the unsafe condition.

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Beach umbrellas can be a great way to avoid getting a sunburn at the beach. But on a windy day, they can also pose a significant danger. A strong wind can turn an umbrella into a dangerous object, with the potential to cause serious injuries. In addition to beach umbrellas possibly being lifted out of the sand, umbrellas can also come out of outdoor dining tables or even outdoor store displays.

Beach UmbrellaLawsuits against individuals or business owners based on an umbrella injury generally allege that the defendant was negligent in properly securing the umbrella. Even the government is a potential defendant in beach umbrella cases. If the incident occurs on a public beach, for example, the government may be responsible, particularly if the lifeguard was aware of the potential hazard caused by the wind but failed to minimize the danger.

In order to prove negligence, a plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to protect them against an unreasonable risk of harm, the defendant breached that duty, and an injury occurred that was proximately caused by the breach. The plaintiff has the burden to prove all four elements in a negligence claim. This means that the plaintiff has to present evidence that would allow a rational juror to reasonably conclude each of the elements of the claim is met.

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Many people assume that since lead paint is no longer legal, there is nothing to worry about. However, although lead paint has been banned since 1978, many homes still have lead paint underneath the current coat of paint.

Paint CanA Landlord’s Duty to Tenants

A landlord has a duty to tenants to keep the property in a certain condition and to make certain disclosures to tenants. If a home was built prior to 1978, renters must receive a lead-based paint pamphlet and any known information about the presence of lead-based paint. In Illinois, a landlord also has a special duty to minors. A landlord may be liable for injuries if the landlord knows or has reason to know that minors frequent the premises, there is a dangerous condition, minors are likely to be injured based on their failure to appreciate the risk, and the expense of remedying the condition is slight compared to the risk to minors.

Lead Paint Poisoning Claims

Generally, lead poisoning cases are based on the theory of negligence. Claims may include a negligent failure to maintain safe premises, negligent misrepresentation, and negligent repairs. Plaintiffs may also be able to assert a breach of the covenant to repair and the implied warranty of habitability, as well as fraud and product liability claims, among others.

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In a recent case, a federal appeals court found in favor of an Illinois man who alleged his ladder was defectively designed. The man fell off his ladder while he was replacing the screws on his gutter and suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the accident. He later suffered from seizures, dementia, and quadriplegia.

LadderAfter the accident, he brought a lawsuit against the ladder’s manufacturer, claiming that the ladder was defectively designed and that the defective design had caused the ladder to collapse. He argued the company did not design the ladder to accommodate the weight of people at or near 200 pounds. He weighed 224 pounds shortly before the accident.

The case went to trial, and the jury found in the man’s favor. The jury awarded him over $11 million in damages. Afterwards, the manufacturer argued it was entitled to a new trial. It contended that the man did not present sufficient evidence that the manufacturer had defectively designed the ladder.

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In a recent case, Chrysler challenged a $40 million verdict against it after a tragic accident involving one of its Jeep vehicles. Evidently, a four-year-old was killed in a collision when a pickup truck hit the back of a 1999 Chrysler Jeep Grand Cherokee. When the pickup truck hit the Jeep, the Jeep’s gas tank was punctured, and the car caught fire. The child was in the backseat and died in the fire. The child’s parents filed a lawsuit against Chrysler, alleging that it acted with a reckless or wanton disregard for human life in its design or sale of the Grand Cherokee. They also alleged Chrysler breached a duty to warn the public of the danger.

JeepThe case proceeded to trial, and the jury found in favor of the parents. The parents were awarded $30 million in damages for their son’s wrongful death and $10 million in damages for pain and suffering. Chrysler was found to be 99 percent at fault.

Chrysler appealed the decision, arguing the court should not have denied its motion for a directed verdict. Before the jury deliberated, Chrysler had filed a motion for a directed verdict on the parents’ claims that Chrysler acted with a reckless or wanton disregard for human life and failure to warn. The claims were based on the allegations that Chrysler knew that the location of the fuel tank in the 1999 Grand Cherokee was dangerous but continued to manufacture and sell the car, failing to warn the public.

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Nowadays, when a consumer buys a product, they assume that it has gone through sufficient testing and that it will be safe to use for its intended purpose. However, manufacturers can be too quick to put out a product, or a product may show defects over time. Products can be not only defective but also dangerous, and consumers may be entitled to compensation for injuries caused by the defect.

Eggs Product liability claims can be based on different theories of recovery, including strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, and misrepresentation. Strict liability claims require a showing that a product was unreasonably dangerous, that the defect was present when it left the manufacturer’s control, and that it caused the plaintiff’s injuries. These claims generally arise either as manufacturing defects, design defects, or marketing defects. In some cases, a defect can be difficult to prove. In others, however, the manufacturer will actually recall the product due to safety concerns.

Product Recalls

There are different types of recalls that can occur when a product is defective. Sometimes recalls are mandatory, which occur when an agency or court requires the manufacturer to issue a recall. Recalls can also be voluntary and occur when the manufacturer decides to issue a recall on its own—although even voluntary recalls can be influenced by the federal agencies.

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In a recent case, a man sued the maker of his utility terrain vehicle (UTV) after the UTV overturned, and the roof failed, causing his injuries. The man designated four expert witnesses to testify in his case at trial. For one of the experts he designated, the man said the expert would testify as to the UTV’s performance, the forces involved in the accident, and factors affecting the UTV’s performance. The man did not explain the expert’s analysis or his conclusions on the issues in the case. Shortly afterward, the man told the defendant and the court that he was no longer going to use the expert as one of his witnesses. However, the defendant then requested to have the expert’s deposition taken, seemingly to find out what his conclusions were.

GavelThe plaintiff objected, arguing that the expert’s opinions and conclusions were protected by the “work product doctrine”—a doctrine that protects materials prepared for or by an attorney in anticipation of litigation. The defendant argued the plaintiff had waived any protection under the work product protection because, as an expert, the conclusions would have been disclosed.

The trial court agreed with the defendant, finding that the plaintiff had waived the protections of the work product doctrine by designating the expert as a witness. However, the state’s supreme court reversed. The court concluded that a party designating an expert witness by itself is not a waiver of the work product doctrine. It also concluded that in this case, the man’s actions did not waive the work product privilege. As a result, the expert’s conclusions were protected under the work product doctrine, and the plaintiff did not have disclose them to the defendants.

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Earlier this month, a St. Louis jury awarded a woman over $70 million in a personal injury lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, alleging that the company’s baby powder caused her ovarian cancer. According to one national news source covering the case, the plaintiff relied on several studies that have linked the long-term use of talcum powder, especially in the genital area, to ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson denies any claims that its baby powder is unsafe and told reporters that the company plans to appeal the case to a higher court.

Baby PowderThis case is not the first that was filed against Johnson & Johnson alleging that its baby powder caused cancer, and it certainly will not be the last. In fact, there have been over 2,000 women who have filed product liability cases against Johnson & Johnson since evidence linking baby powder to cancer surfaced. Not all cases have made it through the trial process, but of those that have, several have resulted in multi-million-dollar verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs.

The American Cancer Association explains on its website that “studies of personal use of talcum powder have had mixed results, although there is some suggestion of a possible increase in ovarian cancer risk.” It is unclear if there is a link between talcum powder and other forms of cancer. In some cases, judges have dismissed plaintiffs’ cases against the manufacturers and marketers of talcum powder, explaining that the evidence linking the powder to cancer is tenuous. However, as time goes on, it seems the link between the two is becoming more and more substantiated.

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Many people are quick to blame parents for children’s injuries. Yet often, the parents are not to blame. Defective products such as toys, cribs, and baby carriers can cause children serious injuries.

StrollerIf a defective product is to blame, a parent can sue the manufacturer or anyone else in the chain of distribution, seeking compensation for their child’s injuries. If a product is defective, it generally is defective by its design or has a defect in how it was made when it was manufactured. For example, a defective design might exist when a product has an unreasonably dangerous design, such as a stroller that too easily tips over. A manufacturing design might exist when a piece was left out when it was built, thereby creating a danger. A product could also be defective because the safety warnings are inadequate to warn the consumer of a potential danger associated with the product.

New Study Shows Injury Risk Posed by Strollers and Baby Carriers

A new study shows that over 17,000 children are treated in emergency rooms every year for stroller and baby carrier-related injuries. According to one news source, the study, conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, looked at emergency room visits from 1990 to 2010. It found that over these years, almost 361,000 children had been treated for such injuries. This equates to about two children an hour, or around 50 children per day.

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In a recent case, a man’s decision to forego optional safety equipment later prevented compensation for his injuries. The man was riding his lawn mower when the mower fell off the edge of an embankment and rolled on top of him. He was trapped under the lawn mower, and tragically he died from suffocation. The man’s wife alleged that the lawn mower manufacturer was negligent because the machine did not come with a rollover protection system. However, the defendant pointed out that the man had the option of adding the rollover protection system when he bought the lawn mower, which he neglected to purchase.

SeatbeltA federal appeals court dismissed the plaintiff’s case, holding that, according to the optional equipment doctrine, a manufacturer generally will not be found negligent if a purchaser had the option of buying safety equipment that would have prevented the accident. The court explained that the doctrine may apply where a buyer is knowledgeable regarding the product’s use and the availability of the safety feature, there are normal circumstances in which the product without the optional equipment would not be unreasonably dangerous, and the buyer can balance the risks and benefits with regard to the buyer’s use of the product. Since the rollover protection system was an option when the man bought the lawn mower, the manufacturer could not be held negligent for failing to install the equipment.

The Optional Equipment Doctrine in Illinois

The optional equipment doctrine arises in the context of negligence in manufacturing. It is not exactly a defense, but instead it is a way a defendant can show that it fulfilled its duty to the purchaser. That is, the defendant, by informing buyers that an optional feature is available and can make the product safer for certain users, may have satisfied its duty to make a product safe.

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