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Product Liability Cases – the Famous and the Controversial

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on May 23, 2014

Product liability serves as protection for consumers in the event that the product that they purchased and used causes injuries as a result of the negligence of the manufacturer or the seller of the product. The injuries may be caused by a defect in the product, or by the failure of the manufacturer to include proper labels and instructions on how to properly use the product. Here are some of the more famous and controversial product liability cases that have been filed and won.

The McDonald’s Coffee case

In 1994, Stella Liebeck filed a product liability lawsuit against fast food giant McDonald’s after accidentally pouring a cup of coffee on herself, resulting in third degree burns on the lower part of her body. Liebeck and her lawyer argued that the coffee she was served was scalding at 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit – far from the reasonable 140 that other chains are serving. As a result, the jury awarded Liebeck with $2.7 million for punitive damages, as well as $160,000 to cover for her medical expenses.  How to Document Damages for Your Personal Injury Claim

The Remington Rifles

The brand’s 700 and 710 models were found to have a defective fire control system, causing the rifle to fire even if the trigger is not pulled. Once the rifle’s safety latch was released – which can happen even if the rifle was just bumped or jarred, it can fire on its own with only the slightest of movement. Because of this, several lawsuits have been filed against the Remington Rifle company, and one of them was won by a man from Texas who accidentally shot himself in the foot while hunting.

Medical product liability claims

Several medical and pharmaceutical companies have been fined for the adverse effects of their drugs. Some of the more prominent cases include:

o Bayer’s Yasmin. Over 500 lawsuits were filed for this birth control pill which caused blood clots to form. As a result, the company settled the cases with over $110 million.
o GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandia. The diabetes drug did not include any warnings about how it can increase the risk of heart attacks, and ultimately cost them $330 million to settle over 10,000 claims.
o Merck’s Vioxx. The painkiller ended up causing fatal heart attacks and strokes to its victims. Over $4.85 billion was paid by the company to settle a reported 50,000 claims.
o Pfizer’s Prempro. 2,200 cases were filed against the company over hiding the increased cancer risk of the supposed menopausal drug. The company agreed to settle the claims for the price of $330 million

The Exploding Coca Cola Bottle

The plaintiff complained that a bottle of Coke exploded in her hand, resulting in a 5-inch cut along with damaged muscles, tissues and nerves. A strict liability case was slapped against the company, which was won by the plaintiff.

The Ledraplastic balancing ball

In 2009, Francisco Garcia of the Sacramento Kings was working out with a Ledraplastic balancing ball. In the middle of his workout, the ball burst and Garcia ended up injuring his right forearm, rendering him unable to play for the first few months of what would have been his first year with the Kings. As a result, Garcia filed a claim asking for $4 million in lost income on top of $26 million for damages. He won the case.

If you or a loved one have suffered from injuries due to a defective product, please contact the Law Offices of W.T. Johnson to evaluate and represent your case.

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Posted in: Product Liability

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