Articles Posted in Product Liability Cases

Published on:

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

In re Michelin North America, Inc. is a recent product liability case. The case arose when a woman driving a 2013 Ford Explorer was hit by Robert Coleman’s Ford F250 pickup. The pickup crossed the center line when its left front tire failed, and it crashed into the Explorer, killing the woman. The driver of the pickup and his passengers were seriously injured.

The woman’s heir filed a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging negligence and strict product liability against Michelin and a negligence claim against the driver of the pickup. The pickup driver filed a petition to intervene in the wrongful death lawsuit against Michelin.

The tire at issue was manufactured at a Michelin plant in 2011. The pickup driver claimed the tread peeled off the left front tire, and it lost air quickly because of tread separation, resulting in the pickup driver losing control. Before filing suit, the pickup driver’s attorney asked that specified evidence be preserved. The pickup driver’s attorney made several discovery requests to Michelin, which objected and claimed trade secret privilege, among other things. The court granted the pickup driver’s motion to compel access. The order allowed videotaping, limited to an hour.

Continue reading →

Published on:

surgery-1482617In Verticor, Ltd. v. Wood, an appellate court considered whether personal injury lawsuits against a medical device manufacturer count as health care liability claims for the purposes of the Texas Medical Liability Act (TMLA). The case arose when a surgeon treated a herniated disc in the plaintiff’s lumbar spine by using a device called the “Eclipse Sphere,” which was manufactured by the defendant. After suffering complications, the plaintiff sued the doctor and the manufacturer.

The plaintiff argued that the surgeon had used the device in a non-fusion procedure, although it was only approved by the FDA for use in fusion procedures in the lumbar region. The FDA had also required that the device’s packaging and manuals include a warning about how its safety in non-fusion procedures hadn’t been established yet.

The plaintiff argued that the doctor was professionally and grossly negligent in using the device in an off-label, experimental fashion and not getting his informed consent for it. He also claimed that the manufacturer had solicited the off-label use, alleging strict liability theories of failure to warn, negligent marketing, a breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, and fraud. The manufacturer claimed as an affirmative defense that it is a health care provider as defined by the TMLA.

Continue reading →

Published on:

storm-clouds-brewing-1446215-mThe Texas Supreme Court recently decided Genie Industries, Inc. v. Ricky Matak, a product liability case. In Texas, manufacturers are not liable for design defects unless there is a safer alternative design and the defect makes the product unreasonably dangerous such that its risks outweigh its usefulness.

The case arose when a worker was supported 40 feet in the air by an aerial lift made by the defendant. The base of the lift was small and on wheels, and an electromechanical interlock prevented the platform from being elevated unless all outriggers were in place and leveling jacks were pressed to the ground. Others tried to move the lift with the worker on it. There were signs on the machine and instructions in the user manual that warned the machine could tip over, causing the worker to fall from a great height. The worker in this case did fall and died of massive head injuries. There have been only three reported accidents like the one in this case.

Continue reading →

Published on:

wing-chicken-1264365-m (1)In some Texas personal injury cases, it is difficult to know which theory of recovery to pursue. In Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation v. Mansfield, a manufacturer appealed from a judgment in a product liability case that on the surface might have looked like a slip and fall. A jury had found that the product, which was a bag of frozen chicken, had a manufacturing defect when it was sold to a retail grocer.

While shopping at the retail grocer, a customer slipped and fell on liquid that leaked through the defective bag of chicken. The store manager helped her get up, and she stated she thought she was okay and wouldn’t need an ambulance. The manager filled out an accident report on the store form, noting that the customer had slipped on blood that came through a leak in the bag of chicken while she was pushing her grocery cart.

At trial. the store manager testified that he noticed there was a trail of liquid spots behind the plaintiff’s cart just after the accident, and that he’d inspected the bag as well. He took the bag to the meat department, noticing that the bag was open, not just torn or cut. The meat department manager and his assistant also noticed that the corner of the bag was unsealed. The manager testified there was an opening at the bag’s seam, a defective seal, which allowed the liquid to leak.

Continue reading →

Published on:

WEDGWOOD FIRE UPDATE

It is now understood that the fire loss that occurred at Wedgwood Apartments on December 28, 2014, will go down in history as one of 20 worst high-rise fire tragedies in U.S. History.

We now also understand that the extent of the injuries and death at Wedgwood could have been avoided, if specific and somewhat relatively basic precautions would have been made, by management or the owners of Wedgwood.

Published on:

irma-wants-some-coffee-982474-mIn Texas, to prove a product liability case, a plaintiff must show the product was defective, the product reached the plaintiff in a defective condition, the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous, and the defect caused the plaintiff’s damages. In a 2014 products liability case, a deceased woman’s estate appealed a summary judgment in favor of the company Respironics.

The case arose when the woman contracted Lou Gehrig’s and became paralyzed. She needed a respirator to breathe. The woman’s husband bought a home respirator and hired a nurse through a nursing service. In 2004, a nurse was caring for the woman and allegedly adjusted a valve on the respirator incorrectly.

The deceased woman’s husband sued the medical staffing agency for negligence. The plaintiff’s third amendment joined Respironics, which designed, manufactured, and sold the respirator. He claimed the ventilator was designed and manufactured to allow a patient to suffer respiratory arrest without sounding an alarm. He also claimed the ventilator was marketed with inadequate warnings that there would be no alarm for respiratory arrest. Continue reading →

Published on:

knee-replacement---front-view-1183623-m-2

In re Zimmer, Inc., a recent Texas appellate decision, considered a product liability lawsuit brought by a plaintiff. The plaintiff argued he was hurt because of the Zimmer Periarticular Distal Medial Tibial Locking Plate, a metal plate used to provide internal stabilization when a patient has serious fractures in his or her lower leg. The plaintiff argued the metal plate had design defects. The plate was first placed in the plaintiff’s leg after a motorcycle accident. It failed within about a year. A second plate was implanted and also failed within about a year. The plaintiff sued the manufacturer, claiming he was permanently disabled because the two implants had failed.

The jury was selected after jurors answered a written questionnaire that asked if jurors had ever had a serious physical injury. The defense attorney also questioned the jury about the experience their family members might have had with injuries. Neither the plaintiff nor the defendant challenged a juror for cause based on an answer related to injuries. One juror who was seated had responded “none” to the question about physical injuries.

The jury found for the defendant Zimmer. The juror who had responded “none” had voted for the defendant. The plaintiff moved for a new trial, claiming misconduct by the jury and arguing that the verdict went against the weight of the evidence. He submitted affidavits from the jurors who dissented. These detailed incidents of alleged juror misconduct. Zimmer responded but didn’t offer counter affidavits.

Continue reading →

Published on:

rollator-908029-m.jpgA Texas military veteran recently brought a lawsuit against a medical device company after the plate in his leg broke for the second time. Sergeant Don Gustafson, a veteran of the Marine Corp and Navy Reserve, sued Zimmer, Inc. in state court in Collin County, claiming that the medical device company created an unsafe product and lied about it. Zimmer, Inc. sells devices ranging from knee to hip devices and generates earnings of $4 billion per year worldwide.

The situation began back in 2007, when Gustafson broke both bones in his lower leg in a motorcycle accident. He had a plate installed to stabilize the leg that was manufactured by Zimmer, Inc. Sometime later, the plate broke and Gustafson was forced to have a new one installed. He contacted the company to let them know what happened, and was allegedly told that there was nothing wrong with the product. Gustafson believed the company’s claims, and so he had the same type of plate installed in his leg. One year later, after suffering pain in that location, Gustafson had an X-ray, which showed that that plate was broken as well.

Gustafson claims that as a result of the plate being broken, he suffered so much damage in his lower leg, his doctors discussed amputating it prior to his third surgery. His complaint came to the attention of the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which requires that companies like Zimmer, Inc. report every device failure within 30 days of it taking place. Gustafson claims that Zimmer, Inc. was not reporting every device failure. Instead, the company allegedly sometimes waited months to report a problem (like Gustafson’s), and its employees operated under the belief that they did not need to report every problem, just the ones reported to them by a physician.

Continue reading →

Published on:

627394_25078691.jpgAccording to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of October 17, 2013, a total of 338 individuals from 20 states and Puerto Rico have been infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to Foster Farm’s Chicken. Forty percent of those infected have been hospitalized, with approximately 75 percent of the victims residing in California. Nine ill persons have been identified in Texas. Salmonella Heidelberg is the country’s third most common strain of Salmonella, which can result in foodborne illness if not destroyed by proper cooking and safe handling. Notably, this is not the first time in recent months that the CDC has reported an outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg. In July 2013, the CDC reported that 134 individuals had been infected with the same strain also linked to Foster Farm’s chicken.

Earlier this month, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) issued a public health alert due to concerns that illness caused by Salmonella Heidelberg was associated with chicken products produced at three Foster Farm’s facilities in California. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) thereafter threatened to shut down these facilities, citing a risk to public health. While Foster Farms has not initiated a recall, the company is complying with the USDA’s requests to mitigate issues at the facilities tied to the outbreak. The investigation by the USDA-FSIS is ongoing.

How to know if you’ve been infected

The symptoms of the illness caused by Salmonella include high fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. While most of all persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps (usually within 12 to 72 hours after infection) that require little medical treatment, if any, some elderly individuals, infants, and those with impaired immune systems can suffer severe illnesses or death. The outbreak strains involved in these cases are resistant to several commonly described antibiotics, which means there may be an increased risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.

Continue reading →

Published on:

herbal-163891_1280.jpgA 48-year old mother of seven recently passed away after taking the dietary supplement, OxyElite Pro, for several weeks. In fact, over the past 6 months, OxyElite Pro has been linked to 24 reported cases of acute hepatitis and liver failure in Hawaii. As a result, on October 10, 2013, the Hawaii Department of Health issued a request that OxyElite Pro be voluntarily removed from stores across Hawaii. That same day, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requested the product be removed from stores. According to the CDC, the most commonly reported symptoms reported include loss of appetite, fever, nausea, light-colored stools, dark urine, and jaundice.

Shortly after the Hawaii Department of Health’s request, USP Labs, LLC, the manufacturer of OxyElite Pro products based in Dallas, Texas, reported that it would cease the nationwide manufacturer and distribution of the products associated with liver failure cases. Unfortunately, that does not mean the product, meant to increase energy, concentration, and metabolism, will be pulled from shelves nationwide. Rather, it is up to the retailers who purchased the products from USP Labs whether to pull the products from the shelves.

This is not USP Labs and OxyElite Pro’s first warning from the government. In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned companies, including USP Labs, to stop using the geranium extract known as DMAA after it was linked to cases of increased blood pressure, shortness of breath, chest tightening, cardiovascular problems and even heart attacks. More specifically, the FDA concluded that DMAA is not a dietary ingredient and, as such, is not eligible to be used as an active ingredient in a dietary supplement. In early 2013, USP Labs agreed to settle a DMAA class action lawsuit for $2 million. Then in April 2013, USP Labs agreed to phase out products containing DMAA.

Continue reading →