Countless numbers of consumers are injured each year by defective and dangerous products on the market. If you have suffered an injury from a defective product you may have a personal injury claim.
There are perhaps three areas of defective products they can be design defects, manufacturer defects, and defects in instructions or warnings. Below are examples. Example 1 are actual cases my office has handled and won. Example 2 is illustrative.
Defects in Design – Example 1: A trailer manufacturer specifies a wheel that cannot withstand exposure to salt water and disintegrates the wheel fails causing severe personal injuries. Example2: A bicycle manufacturer’s design specifies a handle bar that comes apart when the rider uses the bike in normal / intended use. i.e. mountain bikes.
Defects in Manufacturing – Example1: An automobile manufacturer does not have proper installed /designed rear seatbelts and they cause severe abdominal injuries in a collision to the passenger. Example 2: An automobile manufacture uses an ignition switch that tends to fail causing the vehicle to come to a stop, creating the possibility of a serious accident and injuries or death.
Defects in Warnings – Example 1: A manufacturer fails to provide an adequate written warning of the flammability of its product and fails to warn to use it an area free of open flames or exposed electrical circuits. Example2: The manufacturer of a space heater fails to provide an adequate written warning that the space heater is prone to overheating and causing a fire hazard if left on for more than 12 hours.
Designers and manufacturers who design, build and distribute defective products can be held responsible for personal injuries or damages that their defective products caused. The types of products are broad they can range from everyday consumer products to medical devices.
I am sure you have all of heard of products liability lawsuits involving the Ford Pinto, Firestone Tires, defective hip implants and just about another product you can imagine.
Of course, these lawsuits can damage a company’s reputation, stock value and their bottom line. One infamous case from the 1970s involved botulism in canned soup. Several people died or were badly injured. The company Bon Vivant ultimately went out of business. Some companies will go to great lengths to hide evidence that its products are defective and dangerous.
Let’s look at some notable cases. General Motors (GM) recently recalled millions of its cars to fix a faulty ignition switch that caused accidents and injuries. The evidence shows that GM had known about the problem for years but had hidden it to avoid having a recall. About a ten years ago Firestone Tire Company hid knowledge that the tires it put on certain vehicles were dangerous. Although the GM and Firestone cases may be particularly disturbing, they are far from the only companies that have hidden evidence of dangerous products.
There are examples involving all different kinds of products. Medical devices for instance, remember the Dalkon Shield, a contraceptive device sold in the 1970s. Despite receiving reports that the device caused infections, stillbirths, and even death, A.H. Robbins (the manufacturer) refused to stop its sale. When the FDA stopped its sale in the United States, the company continued to sell it overseas for another 10 years. Thousands of women lost their children, and some women died.
More recently, Guidant, a maker of implant defibrillators and other medical devices. They hid the fact that one of its implanted defibrillators could short-circuit and fail to operate. Despite the potentially grave consequences, Guidant chose to sell its existing stock of devices, and over the course of three years, it sold 37,000 defibrillators without warning doctors or their patients of the defect. Patients died and others were deprived of the opportunity to select a different implant.
The profits made from the sale of drugs also encourage companies to bury evidence of problems. Johnson & Johnson continued for years to market Propulsid to treat heartburn, all the time knowing it caused serious heart problems, especially in children. Bayer marketed Trasylol, a drug used to control bleeding, knowing it could cause kidney failure. GlaxoSmithKlein’s Avandia (a diabetes drug that caused heart problems), Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa (a psychotropic drug that caused diabetes), and the serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that many makers sold to treat depression but that caused an increased risk of suicide are still other examples.
Food is another area in which some corporations place profits ahead of safety. Nine people died and hundreds were sickened by salmonella-contaminated peanut butter, despite the fact that the Peanut Corporation of America had known of the problem for at least three years, going so far as to hire a different testing lab to try to improve the results of tests for contamination. In 2002, Pilgrim’s Pride continued to distribute chicken processed at a plant that it knew was contaminated with Listeria, killing eight and causing others to become sickened or to miscarry. Just a few years before that, people across the upper Midwest were killed or sickened by beef contaminated with E. coli bacteria. The plant that processed the meat would be closed due to contamination, would immediately reopen, and then would close again, the company never solving the underlying problem.
Toys for children are not immune to these dangers. There are companies that sell products aimed at children with knowledge of potential or actual dangers. Magnetix toys, sold building blocks containing small magnets. The toys were popular. However, the company began to receive reports that small children would / could swallow the magnets, and that the magnets would then attach to each other in the child’s intestines and cause infections and bowel obstructions. Even when the United States government specifically asked, the company denied any knowledge of these injuries, and the product continued to be sold.
The fact of the matter is that for many companies, profits come before people, and the companies are willing to knowingly sell products that carry a danger of unnecessary death for those who use them.
Richard M. Katz is a Pasadena personal injury lawyer. He has more than 35 years of experience. We specialize in accident cases, medical malpractice and Kaiser Permanente malpractice claims.
If you or someone you love has been injured because of dangerous or defective product or suffered another type of personal injury, please give me, Richard M. Katz, a call. Our office is ready to help you. Please call 626-796-6333.