Category Archives: Product Liability

Industrial pipe with gas and oil

Poor Natural Gas Pipeline Recordkeeping After Explosion Results in $14.4M Fine

A California appeals court recently upheld a $14.4 million fine issued against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (“PG&E”) by the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) for improper reporting of the pressure in a natural gas pipeline that had previously exploded in 2010, killing eight and destroying 38 homes. After the pipeline explosion in San Bruno, the CPUC fined PG&E $1.6 billion. CPUC’s investigation found that PG&E’s recordkeeping on its transmission pipeline records was substantially insufficient. They ordered PG&E to reduce pipeline operating pressure by 20…

Continue Reading....
iStock_000017430230_Large

The 80-Year Liability

Selling a product today that contains a potentially harmful chemical can lead to liability risks many years in the future. That is the situation facing SQM North America Corp., which is currently embroiled in a suit in California arising out of SQM’s sale of fertilizer during the 1930s to 1950s. The City of Pomona has alleged that SQM sold perchlorate-containing fertilizer to Pomona-area citrus growers from the 1930s to the 1950s, which, according to Pomona’s lawsuit, SQM allegedly knew contained the potentially toxic derivation…

Continue Reading....
Toxic

Stay Granted on Closely Watched Law Banning “Toxic” Children’s Products

Manufacturers of children’s products and children’s apparel are able to breathe a little more easily, at least for now, after a federal judge granted a stay on a law banning the sale of products containing any amount of a select list of chemicals in Albany County, New York. Set to become effective in January 2016, the county law takes aim at toys, children’s products, or children’s apparel containing any amount — even federally acceptable trace amounts — of antimony, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, cobalt, lead, and…

Continue Reading....

A Lesson from the Lusitania 100 Years Later

The famous quote by George Santayana that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” can be an important reminder to companies and manufacturers to learn from past mistakes. And it is always best to learn from others’ mistakes before making them yourself. The misuse of a safety device during the sinking of the Lusitania 100 years ago can provide a powerful lesson still today. On a pleasant afternoon on May 7, 1915, the top echelon luxury liner of her…

Continue Reading....

Avoiding Re-Litigation With Carefully Crafted Indemnification Clauses

Retailers and manufacturers can avoid the re-litigation of product liability claims by entering into a well-crafted indemnification agreement. They can protect their interests by including some crucial information in their agreements, which was exemplified in a recent opinion from the California Court of Appeals in National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh PA v. Tokio Marine and Nichido Fire Ins. Co. In that case, a plaintiff settled a product liability claim against the manufacturer and distributor of a tire for $5.5 million and $1.1…

Continue Reading....

Hunting Season Puts Manufacturers and Retailers in the Crosshairs

As hunting season draws to a close across New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, manufacturers and retailers of hunting products, including treestands, face the risk of claims and lawsuits arising out of the use, or misuse, of their products. With regard to treestands, which are primarily utilized by deer hunters to elevate themselves high above the eye line of wary deer, claims and lawsuits involving their use present serious consequences for manufacturers and retailers. Recent verdicts and settlements involving defective treestands exemplify why it is…

Continue Reading....

Is BPA still a bad word?

The continuing controversy over bisphenol A — better known as BPA — took an interesting turn on December 5, 2014, when the FDA announced that BPA is safe at the current levels that occur in foods due to their packaging. This announcement follows the completion of a four-year review of more than 300 scientific studies by FDA experts specializing in toxicology, analytical chemistry, endocrinology, epidemiology, and other fields. Consumer and environmental groups have been critical of BPA use in food containers for years. Twelve states…

Continue Reading....

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Overrules Azzarello But Declines Opportunity To Adopt Restatement Third of Torts

On November 19, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in  Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc. Having originally granted allowance of appeal to decide whether to replace the strict liability analysis of Section 402A of the Restatement Second, Pennsylvania’s highest court declined the opportunity and instead overruled  its 1978 ruling in Azzarello vs. Black Brothers, 391 A.2d 1020 (Pa. 1978). The four justice majority opinion (available here), written by Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, held that Pennsylvania will continue to apply the…

Continue Reading....

Defending Your Client In A Workplace Accident? Don’t Forget Your Workers’ Compensation Colleagues!

Accidents or injuries involving alleged dangerous products often occur in the workplace. It is basic tort law that an employee on duty is barred from bringing suit against his employer by operation of the Workers’ Compensation Law, provided the employer maintained Workers’ Compensation coverage. Occasionally, plaintiffs choose not to file for Workers’ Compensation benefits and attempt to sue the employer for damages in a common-law tort action instead. While Workers’ Compensation benefits cover economic losses, they do not cover “pain and suffering,” which is only…

Continue Reading....

Taking the Air Out of Overbroad Airbag Recalls

Supply and demand is an age-old economic issue, but the issue could have broad liability implications due to Takata Corp.’s potential recall of about 11 million airbags in the US, and over 14 million worldwide, which are used by ten different automakers. With four deaths, over 100 other related injuries, and massive economic losses looming, the litigation will surely be costly and prolonged. The airbag-related injuries have reportedly occurred from an unwanted propellant eruption that has sent shrapnel from the airbag’s components into the…

Continue Reading....