Over the years, Americans have seen many high-profile product liability lawsuits involving dangerous products play out in news reports.
In 2002, the tobacco company Philip Morris was ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages after a woman with lung cancer filed a lawsuit claiming the company failed to warn her of the risks of smoking. In 1998, Dow Corning came under fire for injuries sustained by women with defective silicone breast implants. The implants leaked, causing victims to contract scleroderma, an autoimmune disease. In 1999, General Motors faced scrutiny after their Chevrolet Malibu cars exploded due to faulty gas tanks. Six people were killed.
Unfortunately, with every big case involving dangerous and defective products that make headlines, countless others do not. Each day, consumers across the country purchase products, unaware of hidden dangers that can lead to injury. Many times because of negligent manufacturers, products people routinely use can potentially cause harm, whether physical, mental or financial.
If a consumer is injured by a defective or dangerous product, they have a right to file a product liability lawsuit to recover damages for injuries they sustained. However, handling a product liability claim can be challenging.
The manufacturing process is complex, often involving more than one entity from the product’s early development to the final sale to the consumer. Errors can occur at any stage.
Each state has its own set of product liability laws, and in Louisiana, the regulations are found under the Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA).
Types of Product Liability Claims
There are four different types of product liability claims. They include:
- Claims involving a defect in the manufacturing of the product. A defect in a product can be due to faulty machinery, lack of adequate materials, careless inspections and untrained employees.
- Claims involving a defect in the design of the product. A design defect exists if a change in the product’s initial design could have made it safer than the original design and prevented injury.
- Claims involving the manufacturer’s failure to warn consumers about a product’s risks, whether through purposeful omission or hard-to-find label information.
- Claims involving a breach of warranty occur when the product doesn’t perform as the manufacturer promised and causes subsequent harm.
Recent Product Liability Lawsuits
Product liability lawsuits can involve anything from dangerous toys, defective components in a car, unsafe drugs with serious side effects to medical devices such as implants that fail and exposure to chemicals in a product causing illness. Some recent examples of dangerous and defective products include certain CPAP machines, weed killers and baby formulas.
Philips CPAP Devices
When millions of medical devices used by sleep apnea patients, commonly known as CPAP and BiPAP machines, were recalled in June of 2021, Philips Respironics found itself embroiled in product liability lawsuits. The devices are supposed to help patients breathe easier at night. However, it was discovered that a polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam used to block out noise could potentially break down into tiny particles or harmful gas. Ingestion of the particles and exposure to the gas led to headaches, respiratory issues, vomiting and possible toxic and carcinogenic effects.
Some of the victims who filed product liability lawsuits identified a breach of warranty against the manufacturer, and others filed claims centered on a defect in the design of the device.
Roundup and Paraquat Lawsuits
Roundup and paraquat are both widely popular herbicides used for weed and grass control. Both have been identified as causing severe harm.
Roundup is a popular weed killer used by household gardeners. It was first introduced by Monsanto in the 1970s and is now owned by the Bayer Corporation. Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, has been identified as a human carcinogen linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although Bayer has recently announced it will release a new version of the product without glyphosate next year, it has refused to add additional information to its product’s packaging to alert consumers of the link to cancer.
Exposure to paraquat is known to cause serious health risks. It is believed that individuals exposed to paraquat can contract a condition known as “paraquat lung,” a debilitating condition to the respiratory system. Paraquat has also been linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Unlike Roundup, only licensed applicators can use paraquat because it’s highly toxic.
Victims of Roundup and paraquat exposure have filed product liability lawsuits based on the failure of the manufacturers to warn consumers of the dangers.
Baby Formula Lawsuits
Baby formula manufacturers are also seeing lawsuits involving product liability claims citing failure to warn.
It has been found that babies born prematurely who drink cow’s milk-based baby formula are at a higher risk for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). This gastrointestinal illness can be fatal.
Lawsuits are now being filed against Similac and Enfamil, two of the country’s top baby formula manufacturers, by parents whose newborns contracted NEC after being fed their products. The parents allege the manufacturers failed to warn of NEC by leaving out the risks of cow’s milk-based formula on their packaging.
Product Liability Claims and Burden of Proof
Under the Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA), the burden of proof falls on the claimant, who is required to prove the following: That an injury occurred, that the product is defective, that the defect caused the injury, and finally, that the product was being used as intended.
If the claimant is successful, recovery can occur for past medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, future foreseeable medical expenses, future loss of enjoyment of life, loss of ability to work, or any other damage that can be attributed to the injury caused by the defective product.
Louisiana products liability claims often require skill and in-depth knowledge of the LPLA. When a person suffers injuries from a defective or dangerous product, it is imperative to speak with a Louisiana product liability attorney right away. Even the most successful lawsuits can be thwarted by a manufacturer’s willingness to spend millions of dollars fighting such claims.
At Herman, Herman & Katz, our lawyers have the expertise in Louisiana product liability lawsuits to help victims receive the compensation they deserve. For more information or a free case review, call 844-943-7626 or fill out our online contact form to see if you have a claim.