Articles Tagged with Defective Products

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Today we wrap up our six-part series on children’s product recalls. We have looked at the basics of these types of recalls and also took a close look at specific examples that readers should be aware of. In the end, the question you may be left with is: so how do I keep my child safe from these products? The answer is a bit difficult. While we can’t even be certain that a product is going to be safe when we buy it, we can do our best to stay informed.

A good resource is the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission website. There you can learn about various types of recalls, not just those related to children. If you are looking for a website that might be a little more fine-tuned to children’s products, a site like safekids.org may be the place to go. On that website, you can sign up to receive recall notifications by email.

While being proactive and keeping an eye on these websites is a great way to keep ahead of dangerous products, it will not keep every child safe. The unfortunate reality is that there will continue to be dangerous products out on the market. Even worse, the manufacturer will be aware of some of these defective products but may do little to warn consumers.

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In today’s post we continue our discussion of defective products that led to children being injured or killed. The case we will look at today has specific legal implications because the tragedy ended in a lawsuit against the product manufacturer.

The scenario was devastating. A woman was driving her car with her 4-month-old securely strapped into an Evenflo car seat in the back when she was forced off the road by another vehicle. During the incident, the plastic hook that secured the seat to the car’s seat belt snapped, causing the car seat to fly out the window. Although the child was strapped into the car seat, he did not survive.

The child’s parents eventually sued the company, winning $10.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The company had to reveal that the car seat model had a tendency to crack just like a previous model that had been recalled did. Not only that, the company was aware of the issue as shown in tests that they conducted. Unfortunately, the company did not technically have to reveal their findings because the tests were done at a speed higher than the federal testing requirement.

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Previously we looked at a case where a rubbery toy nearly suffocated a child. The incident caused the mother of the child to campaign for its removal from the market. Unfortunately, not all cases of defective products turn out this way. In many cases, the product proves to be fatal, leaving parents devastated.

One of these cases is related to a product that is specifically bought by many parents to keep their child safe: a baby monitor. Parents all across our country buy baby monitors in order to make sure their child is safely asleep or is safe while playing in his or her room. It gives parents peace of mind, especially throughout the night.

Unfortunately, the product that was meant to keep 10-month-old Savannah safe ultimately took her life. The girl’s family used a baby monitor over her crib to keep an eye on her. They put the video monitor out of reach of the child, but at some point she reached a milestone and stood up on her own. Within one day of reaching that milestone, the girl reached for the monitor and the cord ended up strangling her.

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In our last two posts on this topic we covered the basics of recalls related to children’s products and discussed the various types of issues that may happen with certain kids’ products. Today we take a deeper look at some very personal stories that either injured or took the life of a child.

Take, for example, a seemingly innocent toy called the Yo-Yo Water Ball. It’s a rubbery ball that’s attached to a rubbery string that kids can put on their finger and bounce around much like a typical yo-yo toy.

Back in 2003, a 5-year-old boy was playing with the toy. He was swinging it around his head when the cord wrapped around the boy’s neck four times. The boy ran to his mother who promptly ripped the cord in two. The boy thankfully survived the ordeal but was left with strangulation marks on his neck for a few days. Thankfully, this incident did not have a tragic outcome. The mother contacted the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and found out that the toy was under investigation already. She campaigned to get the toy removed from the market, contacting politicians and different media outlets. Her efforts have made an impact in various states including New York, where these toys are now banned.

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In today’s post, we continue our discussion on children’s product recalls. While we may know general facts about the different recalls that have happened, it can be a good idea to understand what kind of issues different types of children’s products may have in terms of safety.

Here are some different products and the issues that have been associated with them that led to a recall or corrective action:

–Cradles or bassinets: entrapment or suffocation, entanglement hazards, risk of falling, risk of injury from tipping

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We hear about child-related product recalls every now and then, especially when they lead to a tragic outcome. If you go to websites such as kidsindanger.org, you can read through many tragic stories of products hurting or killing children. The problem is a lot more frequent than some readers may think.

In fact, kids’ products are recalled more than two times every week. That amounts to more than 100 children’s product recalls every year. The issue with these types of product recalls is that companies don’t exactly spend a lot of resources advertising the recall. They will usually send out a press release to let consumers know. That’s why it is important to keep an eye on product recall websites in order to keep track of recalled items. Chances are good that you may have a recalled product in your home at one time or another.

Just about anything can be recalled: toys, cribs, bouncers, high chairs, you name it. These recalls are usually regulated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), although this agency can’t really force a company to recall an item. The hope is that the company makes that decision after learning of any defects or issues related to a product in order to protect consumers.

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We’ve been looking in recent posts at the issue of product recalls and product liability litigation. Last time, we began looking at how product recall can sometimes, in some states, be used as evidence of liability for negligence in connection with a defective or dangerous product. That is not the case here in New York, which subscribes to the though there are certain exceptions.

Another possible way a recall can go badly for a company is when the company, knowing litigation is possible, destroys evidence that could demonstrate its own negligence. This is known as spoliation, and can sometimes serve as a basis for product liability. The point we’ve been trying to make with respect to how recalls are conducted is that companies who don’t conduct careful recalls can open themselves up to liability, though there may be limitations on plaintiffs’ ability to use recalls as evidence of liability due to the subsequent remedial measures rule.  

Another potential limitation on plaintiffs in product liability cases where a recall has been issued is that a company may have the ability to assert the defense that the plaintiff assumed the risk of using a product after receiving a warning through a recall notice or some other means but continued to use the product.

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Picking up where we left off in our last post, we wanted to look briefly at the issue of product recalls in the context of product liability litigation.

As we noted last time, the place a product recall will have in product liability litigation depends on the type of claim or claims being made, the state in which the claim is made, and other factors. One such factor is the way in which a recall is conducted. The way a company goes about a recall can affect whether it helps or hurts the company in subsequent product liability litigation. 

In product liability cases based on negligence, for example, a product recall notice may contain admissions of negligence that can, in some states at least, be used as evidence in a product liability case. Companies are aware of this and are usually advised by counsel to avoid including any admissions in their recall notices, which can lead to another problem—not including enough information. In other states, including New York, recall notices and documents may not be used as evidence of negligence. Some states do not allow such evidence for negligence claims, but do allow it for strict liability or breach of warranty claims, so it depends where the case is being brought and what law applies.

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Last time, we mentioned a recent batch of product recalls issued last week and began discussing the importance of working with an experienced attorney to seek just compensation for injuries connected to defective products. Although litigation is not always the answer for an injured consumer, it may be necessary in some cases to ensure the consumer has a chance to be fairly compensated.

Product recalls, or lack thereof, can sometimes be a factor, or an issue to be dealt with, in some product liability cases. Any plaintiff pursuing product liability litigation is required to prove certain basic elements for each claim. For product liability, there are several theories on which a plaintiff may be held liable. The place a product recall has in a product liability case depends on which theory a plaintiff is basing a claim, the state in which the suit is brought, the specific facts of the case. 

One theory on which a plaintiff may pursue product liability is negligence, or failure to abide by some established duty with respect to the design, manufacture, marketing and distribution of a product. The duty of care owed under a negligence theory depends on the company’s role with respect to the product, but generally a duty of reasonable care is owed.

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Companies recall products all the time for various reasons. In the last week, for example, a number of product recalls were issued, including three models of Coleman flashlights, a Rollerblade inline skating safety helmet, two models of Yamaha off-highway vehicles, three models of Fisher-Price cradle swings, Outdoor Gourmet marinade injectors, a model of a Staples and Quill office chair, and a Miniland Educational plush fastening toy.

Some of the recalls were issued after safety incidents had been reported, though none of the recent batch of recalls were issued in response to any injuries. This isn’t always the case. When companies are responsible, they do enough pre-market safety development and respond quickly enough to post-market safety concerns that the harm to consumers is kept to a minimum. In some cases, though, companies fail to reveal the risks their products post and choose instead to benefit from market demand, or fail to respond responsibly to product failures.  

For consumers who are harmed by a defective product, the primary concern is addressing the injuries themselves, and then seeking just compensation from parties responsible for the injury. In some cases, it may be possible to settle privately over defective product injuries, but obtaining just compensation is only possible in some cases by pursuing litigation.

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