Articles Posted in Products Liability

When a manufacturer places a defective product on the market, they put consumers at risk of serious harm. If a person suffers injuries from a defective product, he or she may bring a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. When a manufacturer realizes their products have caused harm, they can and should announce a product recall to prevent further harm.

For example, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in Bethesda, Maryland, Fisher-Price has reannounced its recall of 4.7 million Rock ‘n Play infant sleepers. Fisher-Price originally announced the recall in 2019 after over 30 infant fatalities occurred in the sleepers. These fatalities often happened when infants placed in the sleepers would roll from their backs to their stomachs or side without proper restraints. Sadly, since the recall, there have been 70 additional fatalities. In total, 100 infant deaths occurred. Fisher-Price’s re-announcement of the recall comes after reports that at least eight infants died after the initial 2019 recall.

What Are the Elements of a Maryland Product Liability Lawsuit?

An injured plaintiff suing a product manufacturer should understand the elements of a negligence vs. strict liability theory of recovery. Plaintiffs can bring a negligence lawsuit if the defendants who caused their injuries acted carelessly—or if they were careless by failing to act. To succeed in a negligence claim, plaintiffs must prove the defendants owed them a duty of care, breached that duty by acting carelessly or failing to act, caused the plaintiffs’ injuries through their carelessness, and that the plaintiffs suffered resultant harm. When suing a manufacturer for negligence, plaintiffs must prove the manufacturer owed them a duty of care to manufacture their products safely and failed to meet that duty.

The manufacturers and distributors of consumer products that are sold in the UNited States have a responsibility to ensure that the products are reasonably safe when they are used as directed. Companies that continue to market dangerous products after they have known or should have known of the risk may be subject to serious legal liability if a consumer is injured or killed while using the product. Manufacturers often use product recalls to address and remediate dangerous product issues with merchandise that has already been sold. The Ford Motor Company has recently issued a recall for over 200,000 of their popular SUVs because several vehicles have caught fire, placing consumers at risk of serious injury.

According to a national news report discussing the recall, the company has issued recalls for approximately 200,000 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator vehicles that were manufactured between 2015 and 2017. The recall was issued because at least 25 vehicles in the recall group have had fires break out from the climate control systems. Although no injuries have been reported yet, the danger posed by vehicles catching on fire is serious and must be addressed. The article does not specify which specific models are subject to the recall. Anyone owning a 2015-2017 Lincoln Navigator or Ford Excursion should reach out to a local dealer to determine if their vehicle is subject to the recall, where the needed repairs will be made free of charge by the dealer.

Why Do Manufacturers Recall Products?

Manufacturers use recalls in an attempt to get dangerous products removed from the market, and therefore limit their legal liability for injuries caused by their products. Consumers who are hurt or killed by products that have already been recalled may face obstacles in collecting compensation for their loss as a result of the dangerous product. A previously issued recall is not a total bar to relief in the event of an injury. Consumers who have been hurt by a dangerous product may be entitled to significant compensation, even if the product was recalled before or after the injury occurred. Manufacturers cannot use a recall to absolve themselves entirely from the consequences of a dangerous product. Anyone with questions about making a product liability claim based on a dangerous product would seek sound legal advice before pursuing any action.

The newest transportation gadget is the electronically powered bicycle, commonly referred to as the e-bike. Over the last five years, e-bike sales have shot up from 152,000 in 2016 to 804,000 in 2021. As sales of e-bikes have skyrocketed, experts are sounding the alarm on the new technology’s safety hazards. According to the author of a 2020 study on e-bike safety, e-bikes are associated with more serious injury than manual bikes. Specifically, the study found that e-bike riders were more likely than manual bike riders to suffer internal injuries and need hospitalization after an accident.

Recently, a family in California filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Red Power Bikes after their daughter died in an accident involving the company’s e-bikes. Filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the lawsuit also names Giro Sport Design, the manufacturer of the helmet the 12 year-old victim wore at the time of her accident. In January 2021, the victim was riding as a passenger on a RadRunner bike, sitting on a flat rack over the e-bike’s back wheel. Allegedly relying on the e-bike’s electric boost, which reaches speeds up to 20 miles per hour without pedaling, she and her friend rode to the top of a hill. While descending the hill, the e-bike allegedly picked up speed and began to shake. When the brakes failed to slow or stop the e-bike, her friend lost control. Both girls were thrown, and the victim suffered traumatic brain injury that left her unconscious. She never regained consciousness and died 16 days later.

What Does the Lawsuit Allege?

Motorcycle accidents happen every day for various reasons, but some of the most concerning accidents occur not because of the fault of the driver or other drivers on the road. On some occasions, motorcycle crashes occur because of motorcycle defects and flaws in the design of the motorcycle. Consumers put their trust in manufacturers and expect that the products that they purchase are safe and reliable. However, every year, there are many cases of consumers suffering injuries and even death due to defective products, including motor vehicles. When manufacturers build motorcycles with defects or defective parts, it puts motorcyclists and other drivers and pedestrians at risk. If it is determined that a motorcycle was designed with defects that caused a motorcycle accident, the manufacturer may be legally held liable for their negligence.

According to a recent news report, a 44-year-old died after a motorcycle crash in Frederick County, Maryland. A group of motorcyclists were traveling northbound when a 2011 Harley Davidson Electra Glide motorcycle began to wobble and the driver lost control. The motorcycle went down and the driver was ejected. The driver unfortunately was pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation should be conducted to determine the cause of the accident, including whether the accident was possibly caused by a defect in the motorcycle.

Motorcycle defects can range from defects in the brakes, defective tires, and/or defects in various other parts. Riders and drivers should pay attention to any motor vehicle recalls. A recall happens if there is a particular defect in a vehicle that applies to many of the vehicles that fall under the same model. If you believe you suffered injuries from a motorcycle accident due to motorcycle defects, an experienced lawyer can help you navigate how to file a claim and hold the manufacturer responsible for their negligence in product design.

Recent studies by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report that 212,500 vehicle fires caused nearly 600 deaths and injuries in the United States in 2018. Key findings of the study indicated that mechanical failures, electrical failures, and collisions were the leading causes of vehicle fires. Vehicle fires caused 4.5 times the number of deaths as nonresidential structure fires and 1.6 times the number of apartment fire deaths. Those that suffer injuries in a Maryland vehicle fire should consult with an attorney to determine their rights and remedies.

The harrowing data imparts how critical it is for vehicle manufacturers to engage in safety measures to prevent vehicle fires. Recently, BMW announced a recall involving more than a million vehicles. The company cited issues with the engine ventilation system in these vehicles; the faulty system can cause the car to catch fire. The recall involves nearly 1 million sedans and SUVs in the United States and thousands more in other parts of the world.

The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explained that these vehicles are prone to an electrical short in their valve heaters. Over time the irregularity can lead to overheating and even cause a fire. The fire can occur regardless of whether the car is driven or parked. The company advises drivers who smell smoke or burning plastic or view smoke wafting from the engine to pull over, shut the engine, and exit the car.

For many Americans, soda and juice products are essentials for their household. In fact, you may restock them several times a month when you do your regular grocery shopping. Whether you or your children drink orange juice with breakfast or enjoy a canned soda as a midday refreshment, many families have a variety of beverages in their homes. Many people specifically purchase products from brands like Coca-Cola because of their trust in an established beverage brand and the quality and consistency of their products. What happens, however, when these beverages have undisclosed foreign substances that could harm your health?

According to a recent news report, Coca-Cola announced two recall actions involving drinks potentially contaminated by foreign substances. Minute Maid, which is owned by Coca-Cola, noted that Berry Punch, Strawberry Lemonade, and its Fruit Punch flavored drinks are sold in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Maine, and New Jersey were impacted by the recall. Coca-Cola and Sprite also issued a similar recall caused by foreign substances recently, which involved 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola and Sprite. Because approximately 7,000 cases of these drinks were sold before the recall and the products will not expire until 2022, they may still be in some consumers’ homes. Thus, if you have purchased any of these flavors of drinks from Minute Maid or Coca-Cola recently, you should stop consuming them immediately and seek a refund or dispose of the products.

Unfortunately, because many of these Coca-Cola products were sold in Maryland, the recall may affect Maryland residents. Sellers and manufacturers of products are required to ensure that their products are safe for consumption or use and that they will not cause any injury. When a seller or manufacturer distributes or sells their products, they essentially create a contract with the consumer that the product that is being purchased is as advertised. If a consumer is then injured by a defective or unreasonably dangerous product, they may have grounds to file a products liability claim.

Maryland product liability laws govern many situations involving consumers or patients who suffer injuries because of a defective or dangerous object. These lawsuits may arise after a consumer suffers injuries or damages from a defective product. Recently, the Coca-Cola Company announced a recall of certain Minute Maid products after receiving reports of foreign objects in their products.

Under the law, foreign objects in food refer to situations when users discover an object in their drink or food. The item is generally one that the consumer would not expect to be in their meal or drink. Some common examples of a foreign object may include:

  • Metal;

Medical devices often play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating serious medical conditions. However, patients who use defective or dangerous medical devices may end up in a less desirable position than they started. Companies whose products cause harm to patients may be liable under Maryland’s product liability laws. While a defective product lawsuit may not make a person whole again or undo the harm they experienced, it can relieve some financial burdens.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a recall statement alerting those who use specific Philips ventilators, CPAP, and BiPAP machines. The recall follows a June 2021 safety report that advised healthcare providers and consumers that these devices may pose potential health risks. The FDA’s investigation in conjunction with the company’s testing revealed that foam degradation in the product is toxic and might emit carcinogens. Philips explained that the foam might release toxic fumes and particles that users may swallow or inhale. While the company stated that they were replacing and repairing the machines, the process may take upwards of a year. Further testing also showed that the replacement foam poses many of the same risks as the original product.

Many users have reported injuries related to defective machines, such as:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Brain Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Respiratory Distress System
  • Heart Failure and Attack
  • Liver Cancer, Damage, and DIsease
  • Lung Cancer, Damage, and Disease

These injuries can have lifelong consequences on the user and their loved ones. In addition to these conditions come users reported side effects such as:

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The manufacturers of consumer products have a duty to perform reasonable tests to ensure that their product is safe for use. In the event that a product may be dangerous to use, manufacturers are required to adequately warn consumers of the dangers that are known. manufacturers can be held accountable for significant damages in the event that their products harm people. If manufacturers fail to disclose known risks of a product, they could be required to pay damages well in excess of the actual harm caused to a victim by their product. The California Court of Appeals recently affirmed a substantial verdict against Monsanto, the manufacturer of the popular weed control product Roundup, which contained a significant amount of punitive damages against the company.

The plaintiffs in the recently decided case are a married couple who used roundup on their properties from the 1980s until 2015. Based on the information contained in the packaging and from advertisements, the plaintiffs did not think that Roundup was a dangerous chemical, and they used it liberally on their properties without gloves or other protective equipment. After using the product for years, both plaintiffs developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that has been linked to the use of Roundup and other herbicides. The plaintiffs sued the defendant in state court, alleging that the product was dangerous and defective and that the defendant failed to warn consumers about dangers that they knew of.

What Was the Outcome of the Roundup Trial?

During a six-week trial, witnesses testified that the defendant had access to information that their product caused cancer, and failed to warn consumers of the risk. Additionally, witnesses testified that the use of gloves and other safety equipment could significantly reduce the risk of cancer, however, the product label did not advise consumers to use protective equipment. Witnesses also testified that the plaintiffs’ use of Roundup was a substantial contributing factor in the development of their cancer. The jury ultimately ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on all claims, initially awarding tens of millions of compensatory damages and $2 billion in punitive damages against the company. The punitive damages were reduced by the court, and the final verdict totaled approximately $86 million.

A product recall may allow consumers who purchased the recalled product to have the product replaced, repaired, and/or refunded, depending on the recall. Yet, those remedies often do not compensate consumers to the extent of their injuries. Even if a consumer is able to receive a replacement, repair, or refund through a recall, an affected consumer still is able to seek compensation through a Maryland product liability claim.

What Are the Different Types of Product Liability Claims?

There are different types of product liability claims that may be filed based on a defective product. In a strict liability claim, a plaintiff must show that the product was defective when it left the defendant’s control, its condition did not substantially change before it reached the consumer, the product was unreasonably dangerous, and the defect caused the plaintiff’s injuries. A plaintiff does not need to show that the defendant acted negligently in some way in a strict liability claim. A strict liability claim may be based on the defective manufacturing, defective design, or inadequate warnings or instructions of the product. A product liability claim may also be based on general negligence principles or breach of warranty.

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