Articles Posted in Dangerous Products

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Earlier this year, manufacturing giant Johnson & Johnson was found to be liable in a product liability case involving the continued use of its Shower to Shower talc-based baby powder product. As it turns out, there has recently been significant research indicating that the continued use of talc-based baby powder in the genital area can cause ovarian cancer. According to one recent news source discussing the case, the plaintiff was a woman who had developed ovarian cancer after the continued use of the product.

Gavel and BooksAccording to the news source, Johnson & Johnson refuses to accept that its product can cause ovarian cancer, and it has initiated an appeal process, hoping to overturn the plaintiff’s verdict. Specifically, Johnson & Johnson claims that the jurors were tainted because they had been potentially exposed to ads run by the plaintiff’s attorneys notifying women that baby powder may cause ovarian cancer. The result of the appeal has yet to be determined, but for now the woman’s verdict will stand.

This case is the third in a recent string of cases finding Johnson & Johnson responsible for ovarian cancer developed in women who had used their product over the course of years. In total, the amount of the baby powder lawsuits is approximately $195 million. These cases seem to just be the beginning of what could be a very significant series of lawsuits. Indeed, approximately 2,500 other women have similar claims pending against Johnson & Johnson.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Virginia issued an opinion in a product liability case against an auto maker, alleging that the manufacturer failed to manufacture a soft-top convertible capable of protecting the occupants during a rollover collision. In the case, Holiday Motor Corporation v. Walters, the court ultimately held that the auto maker did not have a duty to manufacture a soft-top convertible capable of safely withstanding a rollover collision.

Mazda MiataImplied Warranty of Merchantability

The plaintiff’s lawsuit was brought under the theory that the auto maker breached the implied warranty of merchantability. This legal theory relies on the implied, or unstated, warranty that the manufacturer of a product makes to all consumers that a product is fit for a particular purpose. A plaintiff making an argument for a breach of the implied warranty of merchantability is claiming that the product purchased was not fit for the purpose for which they purchased the product.

The Facts of the Case

Walters was driving a 1995 soft-top Mazda Miata convertible on a two-lane road when she noticed an object fall off the pick-up truck in front of her. She attempted to avoid colliding with the object by steering the car to the right. As she did so, however, she left the roadway and traveled up a sloped embankment, rolling the vehicle. The vehicle ultimately came to a stop upside down, leaning against a tree.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an opinion affirming a lower court’s granting of the defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law in a product liability case surrounding an allegedly defective smoke detector. In the case, Hosford v. BRK Brands, the court ultimately held that the plaintiffs’ failure to show that a “safer, practical, alternative design” was available for the defendant to use in the manufacturing process was fatal to the plaintiffs’ claim.

FireThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving family members of a young girl who died when the family’s mobile home caught fire. According to the facts section of the appellate opinion, an electrical malfunction caused a slow smoldering fire to start in the family’s mobile home. The parents of the young girl were awakened when one of the two smoke detectors they had installed went off. The parents were able to safely rescue their nine-month-old son, who was sleeping in the room with them, but they were unable to rescue their nine-year-old daughter. The daughter died in the fire.

The plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the smoke detector, arguing that the technology used in the unit was not effective at providing an early warning during slow smoldering fires. Under the applicable law, in order to succeed in their claim, the plaintiffs needed to prove that there was a “safer, practical, alternative design” that the defendant could have used to manufacture the smoke detector. The plaintiffs pointed to another type of technology that is available and is more effective at detecting early signs of a slow smoldering fire.

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Trial judges are required to make numerous spur-of-the-moment decisions in each case. Many of these decisions involve whether certain evidence is admissible, whether a party’s request for a continuance should be granted, or whether a party’s motion should be granted. In each of these cases, if the trial judge comes to the wrong conclusion he or she may be reversed on appeal.

popcorn-707364_960_720Whenever a party loses a case, they may wish to appeal. This means that the court that heard the case loses jurisdiction, and a higher court reviews the issues presented during the subsequent appeal. However, before an appellate court will hear an appeal, the party requesting the appeal must show that they first presented the lower court with an opportunity to rule on the issue. Absent that showing, an appellate court will likely refuse to hear the appeal. That is exactly what happened in a recent case in front of the Eighth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals.

Stults v. International Flavors

In Stults v. International Flavors, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of microwavable popcorn. He claimed that he developed a lung disease after consuming between one to three bags of microwavable popcorn per day for twenty years. He cited recent studies indicating that the flavoring used to give popcorn a “buttery” flavor was shown to cause the very lung disease he was diagnosed with.

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