Posts tagged with "dangerous product"

Product Liability Problems: When Healing Becomes Hurting

We’re in the middle of a cold New England winter and for many of us, that means we’re suffering the ubiquitous head cold. Not surprisingly, young children are particularly susceptible as their attendance in school subjects them to throngs of other children, many of whom are infected with a virus.

As parents, we seek to do all that we can to alleviate the unpleasantness experienced by our children when they are ill. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that our well-meaning efforts don’t create a bigger problem. Unfortunately, some of the products we buy are not designed with safety in mind and the devices we use to help our children can end up harming them.

For example, we recently represented a two-year-old girl who had previously developed symptoms of ordinary congestion. Her primary care doctor recommended she use a warm steam vaporizer. The girl’s parents purchased the defendant’s vaporizer, which contained warnings to keep the apparatus away from children. Even still, the parents placed the vaporizer on the child’s floor at bedtime.

The unit was equipped with a glowing orange night light that, the manufacturer advertised, promoted “safety.” The child unexpectedly woke in the middle of the night to notice a strange, glowing orange orb on her floor. When she approached closely to investigate, a burst of steam emanated from the vaporizer and scalded her face. She was left with a visible and permanent scar under her eye.

What Made This a Product Liability Case?

We hired an MIT engineer who tested the unit and opined that it emitted an exceedingly hot plume of steam which can disfigure upon only “momentary contact.” The expert also noted that the steam exhausted by the vaporizer should not have exceeded 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and should also have been equipped with a guard that would have diffused the scalding steam.

This device was not designed with personal safety in mind, and as a result, an innocent child was hurt. That’s the most heartbreaking aspect of product liability cases – the harm could easily be prevented if the company that made the device had just taken simple steps to ensure safety.

During several years of litigation, the manufacturer denied any responsibility only to ultimately settle the case with us for nearly $2 million.

The moral of the story is that sometimes products that we routinely purchase are not what they appear. Care must be taken to ensure that any such product can be used safely. This is particularly true if the product is being used around small children.

Protecting Your Family

If you or someone you know has been hurt because of a flawed product, give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 or contact us and we can talk to you about your options.

Study reveals brands with most product recalls

Parents all across the country use many products to help them take care of their children, and Massachusetts residents are no exception. From bottles to baby formula and high chairs to safety restraints, we entrust the well-being of our children to dozens of different manufacturers. We feel safe in this practice because we assume most dangerous products are recalled, so we know what products are and are not safe. However, because this system relies mostly on self-reporting, product recalls may not be as reliable as you think.

A safety advocacy group recently analyzed major recalls on children’s products in the last five years. The group, aptly called Kids in Danger, made some interesting discoveries about the relationships between number of injuries and time of recalling. These findings revealed the companies that issued the most product recalls:

  1. Target with 24 recalls after 30 injuries and 106 reported incidents.
  2. Fisher-Price with 19 recalls after 130 injuries and 828 incidents.
  3. Dorel Juvenile Group with 11 recalls after 10 injuries and 808 incidents.
  4. IKEA with 11 recalls after 12 injuries and 55 incidents.
  5. Pottery Barn Kids with 11 recalls after 17 injuries and 86 incidents.
  6. Walmart with 11 recalls after two injuries and six incidents.

What is most interesting about these data is that Target issued more recalls than Fisher-Price despite having barely one-eighth of the reported incidents and only about one quarter of the injuries. This indicates that some Fisher-Price products caused many more injuries before being recalled than Target products.

These findings illustrate how important it is to investigate any injury by a product. Even if the product has not been recalled, it could still be a defective product, and if you are injured by a defective product, you could be entitled to compensation.

Source: WTSP, “Which sellers have the most kids’ product recalls?,” April 20, 2015

Product recalled after 73 cases of illness

Manufacturers of products sold in this country have an obligation to their customers to make sure that what they sell doesn’t pose a safety risk. Sometimes, though, regulations can be lax or manufacturers don’t have a fool-proof process by which to test what they make, which can lead to dangerous and defective products. The results can often be severe injuries, illness or even death.

After cases of salmonella kept popping up around Canada and the United States, including one case in Massachusetts, investigators began looking into the claims. After interviewing 39 people, they were able to draw some conclusions. Thirty-seven of the 39 people reported having eaten sprouted seeds or sprouted powder of chia. While no deaths have yet been reported, Salmonella can be incredibly dangerous and can cause sickness that may require hospitalization.

As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have recalled several products that contain chia powder or seeds that have sprouted.

If a civil case were to arise, it would be the job of an attorney to investigate the makers and determine if negligence played a part. Were any of the manufacturers of these chia seeds and powders aware of the potential dangers they could pose? What kinds of fail-safes were in place to prevent dangerous products from reaching the hands of consumers? If dangers were inherent, did the product’s labeling sufficiently and clearly spell them out?

Whether it’s a car part, a consumable or a defective toy, if you’ve been negatively affected by a faulty product, you and a Massachusetts attorney can sit down and discuss the possible options of receiving compensation.

Source: foodsafetynews.com, “U.S., Canada Salmonella Cases Linked to Sprouted Chia Seeds Rise to 73,” June 23, 2014

With cold weather comes the use of space heaters — and fire risk

Many people are using space heaters to keep warm during these winter months. If you use a space heater, you must be very cautious. Recently, there were two house fires that investigators are saying may have been caused by space heaters. During the coldest months in Boston, the use of space heaters is quite common. With the recent conclusion of Burn Awareness Week, it is good to discuss and keep in mind how common a burn injury can be, and how it might lead to a product liability case.

These fires are just two examples of how dangerous a product can be. While both events happened in Texas, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that even more houses in the wintry state of Massachusetts make use of these potentially dangerous products. It was reported that a few pets died due to the fire; however, no people were injured. Not everybody is as lucky as the people in these two incidents. These kinds of fires may cause serious burn injuries or death — especially in the overnight hours when people are sleeping.

In both cases authorities believe the fire was caused by the use of a space heater. This demonstrates that space heaters can be dangerous products and that many things can go wrong with their use. It is possible that the heaters may have been defective or may have had insufficient warning labels. They can easily catch on fire if placed near a flammable object such as furniture or fabric. There also may be something wrong with the wiring if it was not correctly assembled.

If you are burned by the use of a space heater, it is good to know your legal options. If defects are found due to manufacturer negligence or various other flaws in a product such as a space heater, you could receive compensation for your injuries. With the continued cold weather, it is advisable to take note of these two accidents and be careful when using space heaters.

Source: KTRK-TV, “Houston firefighters battle two house fires, both blamed on space heaters,” Feb. 7, 2014