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Products Liability and Defective Product Lawsuits

The purpose of products liability law is to ensure that persons who place harmful products into the marketplace and into the hands of consumers are the ones that bear the costs of injuries that are caused by their products. Any person or company that is engaged in the manufacture or sale of defective products — including the designer, manufacturer, distributor and seller — can be held legally responsible for damages.

There are three different ways under California law in which a product can be defective. The first is a manufacturing defect, in which a particular product does not conform to the specifications of the product line. The second is a failure to warn the consumer of a harmful risk not known to the consumer. Under the third theory, called defective design, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a product could have been designed more safely for consumer usage, yet the maker of the product failed to do so.

An experienced products liability attorney will be able to navigate this complicated area of the law and obtain maximum compensation for injured consumers. The attorney can use the discovery process to include all potentially responsible parties in the lawsuit so that the purpose of the law — to protect consumers from injury from defective products when used in a reasonable manner — is fully implemented.

Products Liability Case Study( click for details )( click to close )

A Sacramento County jury found that Wood-Mizer – a mid-Western company which made portable wood milling machinery – failed to provide a safe product to a retired gentleman who lived in a forested area of Northern California. While using the woodmill one afternoon – and unbeknownst to both he and his wife who were babysitting their three (3) year-old granddaughter, Lorena – the little girl walked up to the machine while it was running. Grandpa was milling the wood with noise protectors on, and did not see Lorena put her fingers on a moving chain drive located behind Grandpa.

The moving chain took three (3) of Lorena’s fingers into a rotating and unprotected – i.e., non-guarded – sprocket; these fingers were completely severed from Lorena’s hand. The finger stumps were eventually surgically re-attached but Lorena was left with both cosmetic as well as functional deformities on this hand.

Wood-Mizer denied any responsibility and instead blamed Grandma and Grandpa for Lorena’s terrible injuries. After a pre-trial settlement was reached with the grandparents’ homeowners’ insurance company for the full extent of their available coverage, a jury found that this product was defective for failing to provide the adequate guard on the rotating sprocket/chain. The jury determined that although the grandparents should have been supervising their granddaughter better, they (Grandma and Grandpa) were responsible for only 1% of the overall fault. Wood-Mizer’s dangerous and unguarded sprocket/chain – known for decades to be an “in-running pinch point” which required protective guarding – caused the jury to assess 99% of the blame to the company and to award Lorena a substantial monetary award based on her severe injuries.

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