Products Liability Cases Prove to be Catalyst for ChangeJuly 25, 2010
Many times products liability cases are the reason companies either recall products that are unsafe or remove them from the marketplace completely. Products liability attorneys will represent clients in area of law which hold defendants responsible for any harm or injury caused by a product. These cases serve as deterrents for manufactures to keep unreasonably dangerous products from ever getting to the market as well as making them more vigilant about having them recalled or discontinued.
Products liability law relegates the liability of any parties involved with the manufacturing and sale of any product that causes damage. This includes the primary manufacturer, distributors, suppliers, retailers and wholesalers. A defendant is liable when it is shown that the product is unsafe or defective.
Ford Motor Company engineers placed the gas tank of the Ford Pinto in the rear of the vehicle even though there was speculation that if involved in a collision there was an increased chance of serious injury. Although Ford knew about the risks, they made the decision to keep the Pinto on the market. Ford felt it was worth the financial benefits despite recognizing they would eventually have to pay out several million dollars in lawsuits.
The jury in a case involving the Ford Pinto returned a very large award against Ford Motor Company for compensatory damages as well as punitive damages for the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. The settlement was so big because the jury wanted to punish Ford for the wrongful conduct they exhibited by neither warning the public of the dangers attributed to the Pinto nor taking the vehicle off the road.
Another well known case of products liability involves McDonald’s restaurant. In this case a woman ordered a cup of McDonald’s coffee from a drive-in window and spilled it onto her lap. Although the case was considered by the insurance industry as frivolous and became notorious for being an out of control lawsuit, the public was not aware that McDonald’s knew the temperature of their coffee was served at 180 to 190 degrees (40 to 50 degrees over what is considered safe) and was capable of burning through all layers of skin within seven seconds. McDonalds felt that they sold more cups of coffee this way and refused to lower the temperature.
In addition to awarding the woman compensatory damages, they also awarded her punitive damages in the amount equal to gross receipts of two days of coffee sales in order to teach McDonald’s a lesson. The verdict in this case was $200,000.00 for compensatory damages and $2.7 million dollars in punitive damages.
Products liability claims that truly have merit as well as the subsequent awards of compensatory or punitive damages can be accredited with helping to make sure companies are held accountable for their actions and keep the public safe from defective products that may cause them injury.
At Hornberger & Brewer we have products liability attorneys who understand the cost and concern litigation presents and will provide every client with the personalized service they deserve.
As California trial attorneys, we at Hornberger & Brewer cumulatively have decades of civil trial experience and our reputation has been built on our success in the courtroom. We specialize in multi-million dollar dispute litigation in state and federal courts in Los Angeles, Orange County and throughout Southern California.
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