Products Liability

Products Liability: Criminal Misconduct

By on January 28, 2014 - Comments off

Collins v. Navistar (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 1486, 155 Cal.Rptr.3d 137

A big rig truck driver who suffered severe brain damage when a 15-year-old boy intentionally threw a 2.5 lb. chunk of concrete through his windshield from the top of a levee, filed an action against the manufacturer of the truck. Asserting various products liability theories, the plaintiff alleged that the windshield of the truck was defective due to its inadequate resistance to penetration, and that the manufacturer had a duty to design its trucks to withstand common road debris, including even intentionally thrown rocks and concrete chunks.

Following a jury verdict in favor of the manufacturer the plaintiff appealed, contending that the trial court had erred in giving jury instructions and a verdict form which required a heightened standard of foreseeability due to the criminal nature of the boy’s actions in throwing the concrete. The court of appeal reversed, holding that the special verdict form had erroneously precluded the jury from considering whether the risk of chunks of concrete hitting the windshield was a reasonably foreseeable road hazard: Read the rest »

Posted in: Products Liability


Does Your Child Ride in the Right Car Seat?

By on July 17, 2013 - Comments off

Car accidents are the number-one cause of death for U.S. children ages one to 12, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). You can help protect your kids in case of a crash by making sure they a€™re using the right car seat for their age and size, and that each seat is properly installed.

The NHTSA provides the following guidelines on choosing the right car seat for your child, based on age:

Read the rest »

Posted in: Products Liability


Products Liability: Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

By on May 16, 2013 - Comments off

Fortman v. Förvaltningsbolaget Insulan AB, (Second District, January 10, 2013) 212 Cal.App.4th 830, 151 Cal.Rptr.3d 320, 13 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 437, 2013 Daily Journal D.A.R. 441

A woman who suffered severe emotional distress when she witnessed her brother drown while they were scuba diving together, filed a products liability action against the manufacturer of a component in the scuba gear known as a flow restriction insert. Asserting a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff alleged that the plastic component had become lodged in the decedent’s regulator during the dive, and had prevented him from getting enough air to breathe while underwater.

The defendant moved for summary judgment, contending that because the plaintiff believed at the time of the accident that her brother was having a heart attack, and that she was unaware that his injury was being caused by a defective product until after a subsequent investigation, her claim did not meet the requirement of Thing v. LaChusa (1989) 48 Cal.3d 644 that she be contemporaneously aware of what caused the injury. The trial court granted summary judgment and the court of appeal affirmed, holding that in a products liability action asserting a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress “the plaintiff must have a contemporaneous awareness of the causal connection between the defendant’s product as causing harm and the resulting injury”:

Read the rest »

Posted in: Products Liability


Issues of Product Safety: Facts of Medical Devices and Medications

By on May 7, 2013 - Comments off

In the first entry of our Product Safety blog series, the legal team at Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis, Inc. discussed general issues related to defective products. While any product may potentially be defective, drugs and medical devices often pose the greatest danger.

Millions of medications and medical devices are used on a daily basis. Consumers and patients look to these products to protect them against health risks, but many of these products can cause serious injury, illness, or death due to defects. Because of the length of time it takes to get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the public may incorrectly assume that these products are safe.

Read the rest »

Posted in: Products Liability


Issues of Product Safety: Defective Product Basics

By on April 30, 2013 - Comments off

As a consumer, there is usually no question as to whether the product being purchased is safe. Many products are, in fact, safe, but this should not discount the dangers posed by defective products. In this three-part blog series, our legal team will discuss issues surrounding general product safety, medication and medical device defects, and the key components in automobile safety.

A product may be considered defective for a number of reasons, including design and manufacturing flaws and failure to warn of potential hazards. If the current design of a particular product makes it dangerous to use as intended, it is considered defective. Additionally, if a product malfunctions due to a manufacturing error or poses safety hazards that could have been avoided with appropriate warning or instruction, it is also considered defective.

Read the rest »

Posted in: Products Liability


Los Angeles Jury Awards Plaintiff $8.3 Million in J&J DePuy Hip Implant Trial

By on March 12, 2013 - Comments off

On Friday, March 8, 2013, a Los Angeles County jury awarded $8.3 million to the plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging personal injuries resulting from defects in DePuy hip implants. The case was brought against Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics unit by a 65-year-old former prison guard who alleged that he had suffered from a wide range of health problems caused by a defectively designed DePuy ASR XL hip implant he received in 2007.

Of the approximately 11,000 similar lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson since the metal-on-metal hip replacement systems were recalled two years ago, this was the first such case to go to trial. Many of the plaintiffs claim that the failure of their hip implants has resulted in crippling injuries or replacement surgeries, and that Johnson & Johnson knew of problems with the implants in 2008.

Despite the outcome of the trial, DePuy plans to appeal the decision, and maintains that the ASR XL hip replacement system was properly designed and that the company’s actions were responsible and appropriate.

Posted in: Products Liability


Sen. Mary Landrieu Examines Mensing Decision, Urges FDA to Offer Consumers Proper Protection

By on March 11, 2013 - Comments off

United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu has drawn attention to and taken a stand for consumer protection in regards to the safety of generic drugs through proper labeling and labeling changes for making side effect risks known. The American Association for Justice (AAJ) worked with Sen. Landrieu’€™s office to complete the letter, which was given to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on February 15, 2013. As consumer advocates, the mass tort lawyers at Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis, Inc., are pleased with and support Sen. Landrieu’€™s efforts.

One of the main points of the letter highlights that as the regulatory framework exists now per the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court in Pliva, Inc. v. Mensing, consumers are not being offered appropriate protection. The letter urges the FDA to call for new regulations that will concentrate on the problematic aspects of the Mensing decision. Overall, Sen. Landrieu is asking the FDA to allow for generic drug manufacturers to initiate alterations to a drug’s approved labeling through the Changes Being Affected process and Prior Approval Supplement process.

Read the rest »


Products Liability: Causation And Circumstantial Evidence

By on October 2, 2012 - Comments off

Chavez v. Glock, Inc., (Second District, July 24, 2012) 144 Cal.Rptr.3d 326, 12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 8309, 2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 10,149

An off-duty police officer who was rendered a paraplegic when his three-year old son shot him in the back with his service weapon, filed a products liability action against the manufacturer and seller of the gun. The plaintiff alleged that he had accidentally left the holstered gun in the back of his car within reach of his son, who was belted in a jump seat, and that the boy had somehow managed to cause the gun to discharge while they were stopped at a red light. The plaintiff further alleged that the gun was defective in that, inter alia, it had a light trigger pull yet lacked a safety mechanism to prevent accidental, unknowing or inadvertent discharge.

The defendants moved for summary judgment, contending that the plaintiff could not prove causation, in that he could not establish the amount of force the boy had exerted on the trigger, nor how the boy’s hands were positioned at the time of discharge. The trial court granted summary judgment, but the court of appeal reversed as to the design defect, negligence and breach of warranty causes of action, holding that the absence of direct evidence as to how the gun was fired did not render proof on the issue of causation speculative: Read the rest »

Posted in: Products Liability


Products Liability: Harm Caused by Other Manufacturer’s Product

By on July 20, 2012 - Comments off

Shields v. Hennessy Industries, (First District, April 13, 2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 782, 140 Cal.Rptr.3d 268, 12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4809, 2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 5595

Several plaintiffs who suffered from diseases allegedly resulting from work-related asbestos exposure brought personal injury actions against the manufacturer of asbestos brake grinding machines, contending that they had been exposed to asbestos dust released into the air from brake linings during the operation of the machines. Asserting causes of action for negligence and strict liability, the plaintiffs alleged that even though the machines themselves contained no asbestos components, the defendant knew that its machines would be used on asbestos-containing brake linings, thereby creating a hazard to users, and that the defendant should have taken precautions to protect users from exposure to and inhalation of asbestos dust.

The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and denied leave to amend, finding that because the defendant did not manufacture or distribute any product with asbestos, the plaintiffs could not plead a viable cause of action. However, the court of appeal reversed, holding that the plaintiffs had pleaded viable causes of action for negligence and strict liability: Read the rest »


Punitive Damages: Failure To Warn

By on May 25, 2011 - Comments off

Johnson & Johnson v. Superior Court, (Second District, January 20, 2011) — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 192 Cal.App.4th 757, 2011 WL 169407, 11 Cal.Daily Op. Serv. 1918, 2011 Daily Journal D.A.R. 2268
A boy who developed a serious skin condition as a result of a severe adverse reaction to an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever filed a products liability action against the manufacturer of the drug and its parent company, alleging that the defendants had failed to provide adequate warnings of the risks to consumers. The plaintiffs complaint asserted a claim for punitive damages, contending that the defendants had long known of the risk of the syndrome suffered by the plaintiff, but had misrepresented study results to the FDA in obtaining approval for the drug.

The Defendants moved for summary adjudication of the punitive damages claim, arguing that the product’s label had been approved by the FDA consistent with FDA regulations, and that regardless of whether they could or should have said something more explicit, their “FDA-approved labeling cannot conceivably evidence despicable conduct or a conscious disregard for safety.” The trial court denied the motion, and the Court of Appeal denied the defendants’ petition for a writ of mandate, holding that the evidence raised a triable issue of fact as to whether the manufacturer failed to warn, and whether there was a conscious disregard for safety: Read the rest »