Products Liability Litigation
Law360 – February 5, 2018
A California federal jury has found that Schwab Co. Inc. is not responsible for severe burns sustained by a child while wearing one of its shirts, clearing the clothing manufacturer of all liability after co-defendants Macy’s and Ralph Lauren settled for roughly $860,000.
The Ford Motor Company (Ford) appealed a jury verdict in a strict liability design defect case, in which Ford unsuccessfully argued an alternative design defect test should have been included in the jury instructions. The plaintiff Teresa Gacia Trejo was driving a 2000 Ford Excursion on a highway with her husband Rafael Trejo sitting in the passenger seat. When Ms. Trejo attempted to change lanes, the trailer she was pulling fishtailed causing her to lose control of the vehicle. The Excursion rolled between 1.5 and 2.5 times before resting upside down. Ms. Trejo stated “the roof was so crushed that [she] was unable to see Rafael.” Ms. Trejo was able to climb out of the vehicle, but her husband died at the scene.
Product liability cases can involve complex mechanisms of injury, and multiple design and manufacturing defendants. Recently, the Court of Appeal addressed a matter where defendants claimed a products liability case should have been tried under a risk/benefit test instead of a consumer expectations test.
On December 16, 2013, the California Superior Court ordered three current or former paint companies to pay $1.1 billion toward an abatement fund to be used to replace or contain lead paint in millions of California homes. The order was issued pursuant to the Court’s ruling on a lawsuit filed by ten city and county governments in California. The lawsuit, People v. Atlantic Richfield Company, et al., alleged the defendant companies’ sale of lead-based paint created a public nuisance and that such companies should pay the plaintiff municipalities for the cost of abating the problem.