GJEL Accident Attorneys have the experience and the resources necessary to win your defective product case. We have successfully litigated numerous cases involving automobile defects, defective medical devices, including Guidant defibrillators and pacemakers, and defective machinery.
In 2002, our product liability lawyers were appointed by a California Superior Court to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee overseeing the Sulzer hip implant litigation. We played a critical role in obtaining a national settlement of $1.05 billion in claims.
California Product Liability “101”
Defective products cause thousands of serious injuries and deaths to California consumers every year. “Product liability” is a legal mechanism by which a consumer may recover compensation for injury to persons or property caused by a defective product. A product may be “defective” in a number of ways:
A product may just be poorly made so that, even when used as intended, it causes injury. A product may function perfectly for a purpose but be designed in such a way that an injury occurs if it is used normally. A product may be safe if used carefully, but it may be considered defective if the manufacturer has failed to supply sufficient information on how it should be used, or reasonable warnings about the consequences of certain kinds of use. A product may be defective if there is a misrepresentation concerning the product that results in injury.
Under California law, a product liability lawsuit may be instituted against any person or entity that participated in making or marketing a defective product or an entity that put that product into the stream of commerce. This may include, for instance, a manufacturer, distributor, and/or a retailer of a product, whether that company is located in California or elsewhere.
Defending The Rights Of The Consumer
At Gillin, Jacobson, Ellis, Larsen & Lucey, our more than thirty years of experience assures you that we will investigate the cause of an accident caused by a defective product, obtain the opinions of the best experts in the industry, and fight for your rights to just compensation. While every case is different, here are a few examples of defective product cases we have resolved successfully on behalf of our clients:
- A $10 million settlement against a tire manufacturer and auto supply chain in a case where a 4-year-old girl was killed and her mother seriously injured due to a defective tire.
- A $3.9 million settlement for burn injuries to a high-tech worker caused when a glass container holding acid disintegrated in her hand.
- A $1.9 million result in a case where we alleged a manufacturing defect in a tire caused a death of a husband and father.
- A $6.97 million resolution where a construction worker claimed that dangerous and defective decking caused her to fall and left her permanently disabled.
We invite you to call 1-855-508-9565 to speak with an experienced defective product attorney at GJEL if you or a loved one has been injured. We provide free consultation, and we’re paid only when we win your claim. You’ll pay no fees if we don’t obtain a verdict or settlement for you.
DEFINING A PRODUCT AS IT RELATES TO THE LEGAL DOCTRINE OF PRODUCT LIABILITY
It is widely known that the doctrine of product liability, as applied in California and elsewhere, renders a manufacturer, and others in the supply chain from manufacturer to the public, strictly liable for product defects. This doctrine has important differences from the otherwise applicable tort theory of liability: negligence, which requires a showing of his lack of due care for the defendant to be liable.
To maintain a products liability action, a plaintiff must first show that the object or instrumentality claimed to be defective was in fact a “product.” But what does that mean? The answer is not always clear.
Case law shows that the doctrine of strict liability is not restricted just to sales transactions (for example, a car made by a manufacturer and sold by a dealer to a consumer). The courts have said that a product is tangible personal property distributed commercially for use or consumption. Use of an article, not just sale, can meet the required definition of a product. That has important consequences.
For instance, one lower court has held that a tile display board used in a home improvement store to show samples of various products available for purchase, was a product for purposes of the doctrine of strict liability for product defects, even though the display board itself was never for sale. In drawing these sorts of lines, several courts have focused on whether the thing alleged to be a product (an item used, but never sold to the public) created a hazard to the general public; or whether it was, on the other hand, accessible to only a few employees in some hidden part of a warehouse where fabrication or manufacturing was going on. The more the item was accessible to the public, the more likely it will be found to be a product under the doctrine of strict liability.
Courts have often stated that the public policy reasons underlying the strict products liability concept should be considered in determining whether something is a product within the meaning of its use, rather than just to focus on the dictionary definition of the word. The paramount policy to be promoted by the doctrine has been described by several courts as the protection of otherwise defenseless victims of manufacturing defects, and the spreading throughout society of the cost of compensating them. So the definition of a “product” is often viewed expansively.
The primary occasion when the courts have rejected a plaintiff’s effort to seek application of the doctrine of strict product liability, on the ground that there is no product, has been when he or she has tried to apply the theory to defective services, rather than defective goods. That is because the doctrine does not apply to defective services. So, for example, one court held that a hospital is not strictly liable for injuries resulting from hidden defects o its premises, since the provision of a hospital room is in the nature of providing professional services rather than a product. Another leading case held that a poorly operated raft trip was not a “product”, because the consumer purchased a package of services (lodging, food, a guide), not just the opportunity to use defendant’s raft.
There are many close questions which arise in this area that the courts in California have not yet resolved. For example, in one pending case a gym member was exercising on a stationary bicycle during a class sustained injury when one wheel failed and metal protruded. Now before the courts is whether this injury was sustained primarily as a result of a service (as the gym contends); or primarily as a result of a product owned by the gym, but not for sale (as the plaintiff contends). Only if the plaintiff prevails, and the injury is deemed due to a product defect, will the doctrine of product liability apply.
Ralph L. Jacobson of GJEL Accident Attorneys represents plaintiffs in personal injury cases.