Category Archives: Product Liability

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Automation May Be Safer, But Also Increases Risks to Vehicle Manufacturers

One of the benefits behind automated vehicles, also known as self-driving vehicles, is a reduction of risks to those in the vehicle. There is a race among the largest automobile and technology companies to have fully automated cars. For example, Tesla cars have an autopilot system, Uber unveiled self-driving cars in Pittsburgh just last month and Ford believes it will be mass-producing self-driving cars with no steering wheels, brakes, or gas pedals within five years. While there are safety benefits to automated vehicles, manufactures need…

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New Regulations for the Prevention of Legionnaires’ Disease: Implications for Product Manufacturers

Legionnaires’ disease, or legionellosis as it is known in medical circles, is a severe form of bacterial pneumonia first identified in 1976 following an outbreak among those attending an American Legion convention held at the historic Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. Research has since proven legionellae bacterium to be ubiquitous, occurring naturally in lakes and streams as well as potable water distribution systems. Studies have established that legionellae is present in virtually all municipal water supplies at some level. Given a proper food source, stagnant…

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Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Product Manufacturer Satisfied its Duty to Purchaser Under Optional Equipment Doctrine

In Parks v. Ariens Company (No. 15-2664), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a District Court ruling granting summary judgment to a lawnmower manufacturer, finding that the manufacturer had satisfied its duty to the purchaser by offering an optional roll over protection system (ROPS) which would have prevented the accident that formed the basis for the plaintiff’s lawsuit. The plaintiff’s husband died from asphyxiation after the lawnmower he purchased from an authorized dealer rolled over on top of him as…

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e-cig and flavor bottles

Will Diacetyl Flavorings in E-Cigarettes be the Next Mass Tort?

This post also appears on the Science & Law Blog from Innovative Science Solutions.  It seems that science related to the efficacy and safety of e-cigarettes (e-cigs) is continuously making headlines. The growing popularity of e-cigs has attracted attention of many different groups, and e-cigs are likely to continue to be the subject of vigorous debate. While e-cigs are not currently regulated, the FDA has issued a proposed rule to include e-cigs under its authority to regulate certain tobacco and nicotine-containing products. Innovative Science Solutions…

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Plaintiffs Regain the Litigation High Ground in Florida

In a setback for manufacturers, Florida’s highest court recently ruled plaintiffs do not need to prove a reasonable alternative exists to prevail in product liability cases. The test that requires a reasonable alternative is commonly known as the “risk-utility test.” A mid-level Florida appeals court had used the risk-utility test, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled Florida will return to the “consumer expectations test,” where a design is flawed if a product does not perform as an ordinary consumer would expect. Florida adopted the objective…

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3-D Printing Raises a Host of Product Liability Issues

3-D printing is booming worldwide, and the technology is being used to produce a wide range of products, from the aerospace, bio-medical and automotive industries, to virtually any plastic based household consumer project you can imagine. As with any new and expanding technology, 3-D printing brings with it a wide range of new and potentially  complicated issues related to product liability. Also known as additive manufacturing, 3-D printing is a process of creating solid objects from a computer aided design (CAD) file.  The 3-D printer…

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shipbuilding, ship repair

United States District Court Grants Partial Summary Judgment on Product Liability Claims to Shipbuilder on Basis that the Ship is the “Product,” Not the Component Parts

The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington recently granted partial summary judgment on product liability claims to a company who built and supplied vessels to the United States Navy, on the basis that a shipbuilder’s product is the “ship” and not the component parts which have contained asbestos. In Hassebrock V. Air & Liquid Systems, Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. Lexis 13775, Plaintiffs sued numerous defendants alleging that Plaintiff Glenn Hassebrock was exposed to asbestos manufactured, sold or distributed by numerous…

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Lack of Federal Regulations May Place Heightened Burden on Drone Manufacturers to Warn Users About Dangers of Interfering with Aircraft

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently reported that pilot reports of unmanned aircraft, or “drones”, have increased from 238 sightings in 2014, to more than 650 as of August 9, 2015. According to the FAA, there have been over 250 reports of drones flying at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet in June and July alone. The FAA statement is part of a push by the FAA to increase awareness that operating drones around airplanes, helicopters, and airports, is dangerous and illegal. News reports regarding…

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Lemonade Out of a Lemon Law Ruling

In a win for auto manufacturers, a California appeals court recently ruled the State’s Lemon Law did not apply to the purchasers of used vehicles. The case involves a plaintiff who bought a nearly-new Ford F-350 from the vehicle’s original owner and soon encountered engine problems. The vehicle was covered under the original warranty, but the plaintiff sought to use California’s Lemon Law protection. The appeals court found the definition of “seller” excluded private parties under California’s Lemon Law. The court went on to explain…

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Avoiding Reinstatement of Distributors in Illinois Product Liability Suits

Retailers can be reinstated into product liability suits through the Illinois Distributors’ Statute. They can protect their interests by being more specific in purchasing contracts and requiring insurance in the United States as seen in Chraca v. U.S. Battery Mfg. Co., 2014 IL App (1st) 132325. In that case, the plaintiff sued the American distributor of a flexible strap used to help carry golf cart batteries in a strict-liability action after the strap malfunctioned.  However, the strap was made by a Chinese manufacturer. The…

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