Posts Tagged ‘product liability’

November 22 roundup

Product liability edition:

  • You mean cigarettes were dangerous? “Florida jury awards $80M to daughter in anti-smoking case” [AP]
  • “Acne drug not found to increase suicide risk” [BBC, earlier on Accutane here, here, etc.]
  • “Man hit by jar of exploding fruit says $150,000 award isn’t enough” [Detroit News via Obscure Store]
  • Chicago accident coverage exemplifies Toyota acceleration hysteria [Fumento/CEI] NHTSA-NRC panel findings on subject [PoL]
  • Strict product liability is in decline, according to Prof. David Owen [Abnormal Use]
  • More questions raised on $500 million Nevada hepatitis verdict [PoL]
  • Notwithstanding chatter in press about toxic cosmetics, study finds cosmetologists have below-average cancer rates [David Oliver]
  • Florida juries repeatedly hold Ford liable for millions when drivers fall asleep [five years ago on Overlawyered]

Court: riding oil pump like toy horse could be “reasonably anticipated” use

By reversing a grant of summary judgment, a Louisiana court has reinstated a suit alleging that the manufacturer of a 50-year-old oil pump should have reasonably anticipated that a 13-year-old boy would climb onto its moving pendulum and attempt to ride it for fun, thus injuring himself. As evidence that such a use was reasonably foreseeable, plaintiffs offered three instances in which kids had been hurt attempting similar stunts in other states — all of which, as it happened, had occurred well after the making of the Louisiana pump, leaving it unclear in what way they could have served to put its manufacturer “on notice” of anything. [Sean Wajert]

September 24 roundup

  • “Appeals court dismisses Oneida Indians’ 40-year-old land claim” [Syracuse Post-Standard; Howard Bashman links to more coverage including opinion; much more on the case in my forthcoming book]
  • When blogging, careful about using the sort of hypotheticals common in law school discussion [Kerr]
  • Beacon, N.Y.: Retro Arcade Museum falls victim to retro town ordinance banning pinball [NYT]
  • Prosecutor suspended from law practice over misconduct, which almost never happens [Greenfield]
  • George Mason U. Law & Econ Center unveils new website;
  • On Polinsky and Shavell’s “The Uneasy Case for Product Liability” [Beck, Drug & Device Law]
  • What did other defendants pay? “Company wants look at asbestos bankruptcy trust payments” [LNL, Maryland]
  • Measuring tape? The many items you’re not allowed to bring into Detroit’s City Hall [Amy Alkon]

Update: Branham v. Ford

In 2006, I wrote:

In May 2001, Cheryl Jane Hale was driving four children to a sleepover in her 1987 Ford Bronco. She didn’t bother to have the children wear their seat belts, so, when she took her eyes off the road to argue with the backseat passengers, and thus drove off the road and flipped the car, 12-year-old Jesse Branham was thrown from the car and suffered brain damage. A jury in Hampton County, South Carolina (the second jury to be impaneled—the first one was dismissed in a mistrial when it was discovered after two weeks of trial that five of the jurors were former clients of Branham’s lawyers) decided that this was only 45% Hale’s fault, held Ford 55% responsible, which puts Ford entirely on the hook for $31 million in damages.

On Monday, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed because of prejudicial closing arguments that relied heavily on inadmissible evidence. More importantly for lawyers practicing in South Carolina, the Court adopted “the risk-utility test with its requirement of showing a feasible alternative design.”

How bad of a judicial hellhole is Hampton County? Though Hale was a co-defendant, she cooperated with the plaintiffs throughout the trial in their case against Ford, even sitting at the plaintiffs’ table; but because the judge classified Hale as a co-defendant, it meant that Hale got half of the peremptory challenges of the “defense.” More from Comer; no press coverage that I’ve seen yet. (cross-posted from Point of Law)

Lowe’s drywall settlement

The home improvement chain says it never sold drywall from China at all, let alone the contaminated kind that has generated problems for thousands of homeowners. But it’s still agreed to a gift-card deal that includes $2.2 million in fees for plaintiff’s attorneys. [WSJ; ProPublica (“Proposed Lowe’s Drywall Settlement Offers Small Payouts to Victims, Big Fees for Attorneys”)] More: Fulton County Daily Report.

August 4 roundup

Bad-mouthing Toyota and its defenders

Years ago I promised myself that I’d stop wading into comments sections, but my breach of that promise today in a trial-lawyer blog attacking me for pointing out the truth about the bogus Toyota sudden acceleration claims might amuse some readers, and I might as well get a post out of it.

“Are not companies obligated to make the safest vehicle possible?”

The safest vehicle possible is a Sherman tank with a restrictor plate preventing it from exceeding 1 mph, so the answer to your question is “no”—though certainly trial lawyers have an interest in asking you to think manufacturers are doing something wrong when they don’t.

“Until Toyota can identify the exact cause of these accidents (besides the too-convenient driver error) anything and everything is in question and must be investigated.”

I look forward to you writing NHTSA and demanding they investigate if invisible vampires are causing elderly drivers to hit the wrong pedal. After all, anything and everything is in question, and you reject Occam’s Razor when it comes to an alleged electronic defect that simultaneously causes three separate systems to malfunction six times more often for elderly drivers than non-elderly drivers, so why not demand an investigation of the equally unlikely invisible-vampire problem as long as you’re rejecting science?