In a recent case in front of a state appellate court, a jury’s verdict in favor of a manufacturer of an allegedly defective smoke detector was affirmed, leaving the plaintiffs with no means of recourse. In the case, Hosford v. BRK Brands, the plaintiffs’ allegations were all based on various product liability themes, but since the plaintiffs failed to present the necessary evidence at trial and on appeal, the case was lost.
The plaintiffs were the surviving family members of a nine-year-old girl who perished when the family’s mobile home caught fire. Several of the family members were in one room when the fire started. The young girl was in a separate room. After a slow, smoldering fire started as a result of an electrical malfunction, two of the alarms that had been installed in the mobile home went off, alerting the family. Since the fire had already started to spread by the time the alarm went off, the family was not able to rescue the nine-year-old girl.
The surviving family members filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the smoke detector, arguing that the detector’s technology was insufficient to give early warnings of slow, smoldering fires rather than a faster, hotter fire. There were several related claims filed by the plaintiffs, all making various arguments under a product liability theory, such as failure to warn, defective design, negligence, and breach of warranty.
At trial, the judge entered a directed verdict in the defendant’s favor on all but one claim, finding that the plaintiffs failed to present sufficient evidence to meet their initial burden of production. The remaining claim was brought under the state’s Extended Manufacturer’s Liability Doctrine. However, after a jury trial, a defense verdict was issued, and the plaintiffs appealed.
On appeal, the plaintiffs lost again. This time, the court held that the jury’s verdict was proper in light of the fact that the plaintiffs failed to show that there was some “safer, practical, alternative design was available to the manufacturer at the time it manufactured the allegedly defective product.” The plaintiffs argued that there was an alternate technology available that can better detect slow, smoldering fires, and the defendants should have utilized this technology. However, the court pointed out that the other technology was not as good at detecting a “flaming fire.” The defendant also answered that they do manufacture a “dual technology” model, but it is more expensive. Since the plaintiffs were unable to convince the court that there was a safer, practical, alternative design, the appeal was dismissed.
Have You Been Injured Due to a Dangerous Product?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured due to a dangerous or defective product, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. It is important to keep in mind, however, that these cases are rarely cut-and-dry, and the efforts of a skilled and dedicated personal injury attorney may make a difference in your case. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with an attorney at the personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
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