When Is a Dangerous Product Recalled?

Billions of consumer products are manufactured every year. Unfortunately, mistakes happen, and products must sometimes be recalled due to defective design or construction. When these flaws threaten the health or safety of consumers, it is considered a dangerous product. 

Commonly recalled products include motor vehicles and their parts, food items, prescription drugs, children’s toys, car seats, and medical devices. 

A product recall occurs when a company asks consumers to return a product for which the potential to cause injury or death has been found. Once a product is recalled, the manufacturer or agency will instruct affected consumers on what to do. 

The year 2022 will beat the record for most recalls in one year, with more than 1 billion recalls in the first seven months. 

Companies have specific quality control procedures in place to prevent recalls, but those countermeasures aren’t perfect. 

Virtually anything you can think of intended for consumer use can be a dangerous product. A defective item can catch fire or electrocute someone, expose them to harmful chemicals and contaminated food, or be hazardous to children.

Dangerous products fall under product liability, meaning everyone involved in their design, manufacturing and sale can be held responsible for causing harm. When an injury occurs due to a dangerous or defective product, a personal injury law firm with product liability experience, such as Herman, Herman & Katz, should be contacted. Dangerous product lawyers can help determine if you should seek compensation for your injuries. 

Green color transportation sign with word product recall on blue sky with white cloud background

Who Recalls Products?

Dangerous products are recalled by federal agencies, whose priority is removing them from circulation until manufacturers can rectify the problem. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates any product on store shelves. They issue recall notices instructing customers to stop using a product, return it or throw it away. These notices will include the product’s name, model number and photo. Anyone can report a potentially unsafe product; if enough reports come in, the CPSC will recall it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continuously monitors medical devices and drugs for potential serious injury or side effects. Suppose these side effects are discovered after a drug is on the market. In that case, the FDA can issue a safety alert, ask the manufacturer to add a “black box” warning level, modify the product’s labeling, or force a recall if the product’s danger outweighs its benefits. 

The FDA also recalls cosmetics, pet food, and human food other than meat, poultry and eggs, which are handled by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalls vehicles, their parts and child safety seats.

Types of Product Recalls

The severity of a recall is classified into three categories.

Class I is very serious and means a product has a “reasonable probability” of causing severe health problems or death. Class II, the most common, means using the product can cause temporary or reversible health issues unlikely to be serious. Class III means health problems are unlikely.

A 2022 study by Southern Illinois University found that devices/drugs are most commonly recalled due to defects and incorrect labeling or potency. Drugs are also often contaminated by other drugs, heavy metals, fungi, or bacteria. This is usually because developers rush through research and testing to get the drug on shelves as quickly as possible. 

If you’ve been issued a food or medicine recall:

  • Don’t panic. Food recalls are usually preventative measures against possible illness outbreaks, and drug recalls are very common, occurring about once a month in the U.S.
  • Don’t open or eat recalled food. 
  • Continue taking recalled medication until you consult your doctor.
  • Carefully read the recall notice and follow its instructions. 

Examples of Product Recalls in the News

The CSPC alone recalls about 400 products every year, making them a regular subject in the news. Most of them lead to mass torts or class action lawsuits against the manufacturer, involving several consumers who suffered illness or injury from the same product. Some recent well-known recalls include: 

closeup of cpap mask on a white background

Philips CPAP Machines. Sleep apnea patients rely on CPAP machines, which help them breathe at night and prevent health issues such as major heart problems. In 2021, medical device giant Philips recalled between three and four million CPAP machines and ventilators due to a foam component that was breaking apart, causing a choking hazard and possible carcinogen exposure. CPAP lawsuits against Philips allege they knew of the defect and did nothing to correct it. 

Airbags. Millions of faulty inflators in airbags made by Japanese manufacturer Takata exploded over a 20-year period, shooting out metal shards that injured more than 400 million Americans and killed 19. Several automakers with Takata airbags have been dealing with recalls for almost a decade with no end in sight. 

Home elevators. Thirty-one thousand units of residential elevators made by a Florida company were recalled in August because of their potential to trap small children inside after one child suffered a severe spinal injury. Some regulators have known about these risks since the 1940s, but it wasn’t until 2022 that companies agreed to warn consumers and provide ways to minimize them.  

Baby Formula. Abbott Laboratories, which makes Similac, came under fire last year after four infants who drank it were exposed to the deadly bacterium Cronobacter sakazakii. An FDA factory inspection found this bacterium and several other sanitary violations. Two of the babies died. The company, which previously controlled 40% of the formula market, was forced to recall several lots of formula and shut down its largest plant, triggering a nationwide shortage. The government began importing formulas from other countries to help, but the shortage continues. 

Parents of premature babies are also filing NEC baby formula lawsuits after their children drank cow’s milk-based formula and developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). This severe intestinal disorder is fatal in up to 50% of patients. The parents say the manufacturers, Abbot Laboratories and Mead Johnson Nutrition, failed to warn them that cow’s milk formula increases NEC risk. 

closeup with selected focus of an attorney holding a gavel at a deskHow a Dangerous Product Attorney Can Help

If you’re injured by a dangerous or recalled product, an experienced dangerous product lawyer with success against large manufacturers and a solid understanding of Louisiana’s liability laws is crucial. 

The Louisiana personal injury lawyers at Herman, Herman & Katz have a record of successful dangerous product lawsuits against manufacturers, drug companies and more. Please call us for a free case review at 844-943-7627 or contact us online to learn more about your possible legal options.