Articles Posted in Product Liability

When we go to the doctor or have a surgical procedure performed, we expect the physicians and nurses who perform the appointment or procedure to use the appropriate care. This includes not only the performance of the procedure but also preparing for it and preventing unnecessary infections. This same standard also applies to medical device manufacturers when it comes to designing and producing devices that mitigate against unnecessary harms like contamination and infection.

Recently, medical device manufacturer Olympus initiated a recall after reports stated that 100 patients became ill with antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The patients all were treated with one of Olympus’ medical devices, called a duodenoscope, which is a camera used in surgeries. According to several reports, Olympus makes roughly 85 percent of the duodenoscopes that are available on the market today.

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A former Massachusetts State Trooper has filed a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler, seeking damages he sustained after one of the manufacturer’s vehicles pinned him against a wall. The officer, John J. Malone, suffered a torn ACL, fractures to both knees, and severe bruising that required hospitalization. The complaint names over 40 specific injuries that the plaintiff endured. It also states that the 69-year-old former professional will require a total knee replacement in the future.

Filed in federal U.S. District Court, the complaint states that the manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings regarding a defect in its gear shift design and that it concealed information about its failure to address and fix the design defect. The factual allegations allege that the ZF Shifter is dangerous because the feedback mechanism is not adequate when it comes to providing a signal that the car has been shifted into the park position. Also, the plaintiff alleges that it lacks a mechanism that puts the car in park when the driver side door is ajar, and pressure is taken off the brake pedal.

This case is similar to another lawsuit involving a defective gear shifter, which was filed by former Star Trek Beyond star Anton Yelchin. In his lawsuit, he alleged that he was injured when his vehicle rolled away from his home down the driveway and pinned him between a pillar and a fence. The plaintiff was later declared deceased as a result of the accident and the injuries he sustained from the pinning. According to the police report, the vehicle was running, and the gear stick was set in the neutral position.

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Vehicle recalls are becoming more common, especially after the high-profile recall case against Volkswagen involving the company’s false and misleading representations regarding the fuel-saving capacity of its cars. Airbag maker Takata Corporation also recently found itself in hot water when it had to initiate a massive recall of cars containing its defective airbag devices. In 2015, a total of 973 recalls were initiated regarding dangerous child safety seats, tires, vehicles, and components, encompassing 87.5 million different products.

A vehicle recall may give rise to a product liability action. If a manufacturer’s product is unreasonably dangerous or suffers from a defect that rendered the product unreasonably dangerous during the manufacturing process, the manufacturer may be held liable for damages and injuries that occur as a result of the dangerous design or defect.

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There are many ways that product liability accidents can occur. Although people are familiar with cases involving motor vehicles, sporting goods, food contamination, and medical devices, countless product-related accidents occur on-the-job. In a recent action, a Massachusetts appellate court considered whether a supposedly defective product was to blame for a construction worker’s death.

The case, Williamson-Green v. Equipment 4 Rent, Inc., involved the following facts. The decedent was working with a large piece of construction equipment called an articulating boom lift to inspect a rooftop of a building. While the plaintiff was perched in the basket at the end of the equipment’s arm, the equipment fell over and toppled into the building, which resulted in the man’s death. The decedent’s wife filed a wrongful death claim and product liability claim against both the maker of the equipment and the rental company who leased out the device.

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In Kerin v. Titeflex Corporation, a homeowner had installed a gas fire pit at his home that used Gastite CSST, a device that is common in both commercial and residential buildings and that is used to provide gas to stoves, fire pits, and other devices. The plaintiff filed suit against the maker of Gastite CSST, Titeflex Corporation, claiming that there was a product defect in the product’s corrugated stainless steel tubing.

The plaintiff originally filed suit in Massachusetts federal district court. In his complaint, the plaintiff asserted four causes of action against the manufacturer:  strict liability, negligence in design, negligent failure to warn, and strict liability for failure to warn. The plaintiff sought damages for the cost of replacing the Gastite CSST device with something that did not pose the same potential dangers.

The defendant challenged the complaint for lack of standing, and the lower court judge dismissed the case, finding the plaintiff’s alleged injury too attenuated to support a claim for damages. The court also noted that the plaintiff had failed to appropriately allege the standard of care that applied to economic harm in a defective product lawsuit according to Massachusetts law.

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Although medical technology has worked wonders when it comes to helping us heal certain ailments or cope with other conditions, some medical products turn out to cause far more harm than good. Medical device maker Bard recently came under scrutiny after reports surfaced that its inferior vena cava (IVC) filters pose significant risks to patients. A few months ago, the FDA issued another warning letter to Bard, informing it of several violations associated with the IVC devices.

The filters were originally developed to help patients facing a high risk of pulmonary embolisms, which can lead to death if not treated properly. One of the most common treatments for pulmonary embolism sufferers is anti-coagulant medications, which prevent the blood from becoming too thick and coagulating. Some patients, however, are unable to take these blood thinning medications for a variety of reasons.

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IKEA, a Swedish-based home retail service providing a line of affordable furniture and home goods, has found itself in hot water over claims indicating that the company’s dressers and other furniture units pose serious dangers to children. Roughly 27 million units sold at IKEA’s stores and through the website have been identified as posing tip-over risks to children if the furniture is not securely anchored to a wall.

Two specific reports filed with IKEA profiled separate tragic and devastating cases in which a child died as a result of a MALM style dresser tipping over and falling on or trapping the child. In one of the cases, a mother found her two-year-old son in his room trapped between an IKEA MALM style dresser that had tipped over and his bed. The toddler’s face was blue, indicating that the dresser may have prevented him from breathing and resulted in suffocation.

Additionally, both IKEA and the United States Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) have received nearly 15 reports profiling tip-over accidents involving the specific line of IKEA furniture. Four of the incidents involved extensive injuries.

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