Product liability. It’s the field of law that holds manufacturers and retailers accountable for injury or loss caused by their defective (unreasonably dangerous) products.
Product liability lawsuits don’t just compensate people who are injured as the result of design, manufacturing or marketing defects. They also compel businesses to comply with society’s reasonable expectation that consumer goods should not harm or kill consumers.
We’ll spare you the law school definition of product liability. You’ll get through life just fine if you think torts are only desserts. What’s important is that you recognize a potential product liability lawsuit when you have the opportunity to file one. If you’re a victim, you can help improve your outcome by seeking legal council at once.
Let’s outline a few product liability lawsuits that illustrate design, manufacturing and marketing defects.
Design Defects: Off With a Bang
Design defects begin at the drawing table. If a product is poorly conceived instead of just poorly made, any damage it causes can be resolved through a design defect product liability lawsuit.
In 1989, Glenn W. Collins was looking forward to a fine day of hunting with his Remington Model 700. Unbeknownst to him, his rifle was one of millions that included a defective firing mechanism. The oversight during Remington’s design process resulted in the amputation of Mr. Collins’ foot – as well as a $17 million payout.
Unwanted explosions aren’t uncommon in product liability cases. Approximately 67 million defective airbags made by Takata Corporation have already been removed from vehicles before they could burst apart into shrapnel. The recall and $1 billion penalty drove the Japanese business to bankruptcy.
Many product liability lawsuits involve medications that caused unintended side effects. One of the most famous of these involved Merrell, which recently offered $120 million to settle all claims that its thalidomide medication caused birth defects.
Manufacturing Defects: If It Can Be Made, It Can Be Made Wrong
It doesn’t matter how soundly a product is designed. If it is made incorrectly, it may cause severe harm to the people who use it.
Manufacturing defect product liability lawsuits are how victims can respond when they are injured by incorrectly installed electrical wiring, fasteners, or other components. They also pop up when manufacturers knowingly or negligently use inferior materials in their products.
Manufacturing defects are less common in product liability law. This is primarily because they can be difficult to prove. When a mass-produced product has a design defect, every instance of it shares that defect in common. In contrast, manufacturing defects typically only affect a small number of products.
Proving a manufacturing defect becomes even more difficult if the product was damaged at the same time the plaintiff was injured. In those cases, malfunction doctrine may allow the plaintiff to prove causation by demonstrating that there was no other possible cause of the injury.
Marketing Defects: Not Just False Advertising
Marketing defect lawsuits concern a manufacturer’s failure to warn (i.e. provide adequate warnings or instructions about the safe use of the product). Johnson & Johnson is currently facing an $8.9 billion settlement for thousands of lawsuits alleging their talcum products contained asbestos and caused cancer. The cost of failing to warn was even higher for Philip Morris, which paid almost $29 billion in damages for selling “cancer sticks.”
Do you believe that you have been injured by a defective product, and now need a product liability attorney in Minnesota? Then we welcome you to contact Kiernan Personal Injury Attorneys today for a free, zero-obligation consultation. We fight for our clients’ rights every day!