Product Liability

Product liability cases arise when a supplier or manufacturer of a defective product sells its product to someone who becomes injured by the product.  The injuries may result in a wrongful death suit, personal injury suit, or consumer fraud suit.  In an event, we seek to establish both the existence of a defect, and that the defect was present when the product left the control of the supplier or manufacturer.  

Class Action or Individual Case?

Product liability cases can be brought as either individual personal injury lawsuits or class actions.  

When one person is seriously injured by a defective product, we typically seek to pursue that case as an individual personal injury lawsuit.  The person injured by the product would not benefit from clumping that case with cases where other members of the class or group sustained less-serious injuries.  

In cases where the defect is widespread, but the damages sustained by each consumer are relatively small, we typically pursue the supplier or manufacturer as part of a class action case.  Even if members of the class were not injured by the product, we can recover monetary damages relating to the misrepresented value of the product.  We can also obtain injunctive relief preventing the company from distributing a dangerous or defective product. 

Recent Examples of Product Liability Class Actions

A recent class action filed in San Francisco Federal Court alleges that Toyota knew its 2001-2003 RAV4 sport utility vehicles have a dangerous safety defect causing the transmissions to fail, but sold the vehicles anyway, and refuse to repair the vehicles.  Another class action in Los Angeles Federal Court alleges that Toyota concealed a dangerously defective throttle control system in its 2001 Lexus and 2002-2003 Camrys.

Taco Bell and many of its franchisees sued Ready Pac Produce in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that Ready Pac sold lettuce causing a 2006 outbreak of E. coli poisoning. 

Recent Examples of Individual Product Liability Cases

One of the largest jury verdicts in California history resulted from a woman who was paralyzed when her 1997 Ford Explorer rolled over.  The jury awarded $82.6 million, and the Supreme Court upheld the verdict.

A woman recently filed a suit against Novartis relating to their production of Zelnorn, a drug prescribed to treat irritable bowel syndrome and constipation.  The suit, filed in Buffalo, New York, alleges that the woman suffered a severe stroke after ingesting the drug.

A lawsuit filed in Harris County Court (Houston) alleges that the purchaser of a 2006 Maserati was required to spend $22,000 to repeatedly replace defective tires and wheels on the vehicle.

The widow of an airplane passenger filed a suit in Cook County Court (Chicago) alleging that Cirrus Industries' and L-3 Communications Avionics Systems' L-3 SkyWatch air traffic advisory system malfunctioned and caused a fatal plan crash.

Types of Product Liability Cases

Types of defects include manufacturing defects, design defects, and inadequate warnings. 

Manufacturing defects exist if a product emerges from manufacturing different and more dangerous than the products made.  The manufacturer or supplier will be liable if the product fails to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect.

Design defect cases arise when all products of a line are the same, but all have dangerous propensities.  Here, we try to establish that the defendant could have made the product safer, without serious impact on the product’s price or usefulness.  

Inadequate warning cases arise when the product is naturally dangerous, but the manufacturer fails to warn the consumer of the dangerous nature of the product.  These types of cases are common in pharmaceutical production.

More Information

If you have a question relating to a possible or pending product liability case, please send a direct message or call our office at (314) 725-4400.  For more information on some of our recent cases, please visit our news page.  We also have an FAQ relating to personal injury, class action, and other issues.