Lawyers Who Prosecute Makers Of Defective Consumer Products
Since the California Supreme Court first recognized a consumer’s right to bring suit against the maker of a defective product, the Walkup law firm has been at the forefront of this important area. We have sued the makers of defective autos, protective gear, sporting goods, over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements, prepared food and home appliances.
The laws of California protect consumers from products that do not perform in a manner consistent with the ordinary expectations of a user. Walkup’s product liability attorneys have broad experience protecting the rights of consumers who are injured by household products, drugs, medical devices, industrial machines, food additives, recreational safety equipment and a host of other items mass-produced for use by the public.
What Are Some Different Types of Product Defects?
If you or a loved one suffered harm while using a defective product, you may be able to collect damages for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. The San Francisco defect product attorneys at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger can help hold the manufacturer, retailer, or distributor responsible for its negligence by filing a product liability claim on your behalf. Determining the responsible party is a matter of examining the nature of the defect. The following are defects that are compensable under California law:
The first and most obvious type of defect concerns inherent flaws in a product’s design. With this type of defect, the dangerous or defective condition applies to an entire line of products, not just one or two items. Design defects hinge on whether the creator designed the item to be as safe as possible. When you claim a product defect due to a design defect, you are alleging that every product in a line failed to be as safe as a reasonable consumer would expect it to be. The product’s inherent dangers present a risk to the consumer that is not reasonably foreseeable.
Example: Samsung infamously released a line of phones, the Galaxy Note, equipped with faulty lithium-ion batteries. These batteries routinely overheated and caught fire, which led to injuries from spontaneous combustion. Airlines put restrictions on traveling with these phones for fear they would wreak havoc in pressurized cabins.
In the case of a manufacturing defect, the product’s design is not inherently flawed, but something went wrong throughout the course of the product’s creation or assembly. If you believe that you sustained an injury due to a manufacturing defect, you are alleging that a manufacturer produced a product that was different than intended, and that your unit is different than the rest of the products in a line. An unintended flaw made the product dangerous or defective.
Example: We routinely hear about recalls for children’s toys, foods, and more. A recall regarding an applesauce pouch tainted with E. coli would be an example of a manufacturing defect. This contamination only affects certain batches of products but could certainly arise from negligence, such as failing to properly sanitize equipment or handle food.
Failure to Warn Defects
Some products, by their very nature, are not inherently or entirely safe to use. There is always a risk that a power tool can cause injury, an electric tool could cause electrocution, and a kitchen tool could lead to scalding. When you purchase a product that has an inherently safe design but still has risks, the manufacturer must still warn of risks that are not immediately recognizable to the user. The manufacturer, distributor, and the retailer all have a responsibility to warn of these risks. Failure to provide adequate warnings about a product is tantamount to negligence, and a victim may be able to collect damages if he or she sustained injury resulting from lack of information.
Example: A teapot with a steam valve did not come with a warning detailing the risk of scald injuries. If you or a loved one sustained burns while using the teapot and there were no warnings outlined in the product’s instructions, you may have the basis for a product liability claim based on a failure to warn.
These three major types of defects inform most product liability cases. If you or a loved one recently suffered harm due to a faulty product, and you believe that one of these defects applies to your case, contact a San Francisco product liability attorney. The San Francisco procuct defect lawyers at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger can help you understand your legal options.
Experienced Bay Area Product Liability Personal Injury Lawyers
Our San Francisco defective products liability attorneys have resolved cases against foreign and domestic automakers for injuries from poorly designed seat belts and air bags, inadequate roof strength and rollover protection, gas tank defects, and handling flaws.
We have prosecuted the makers of unsafe children’s toys and furniture, small electrical appliances, flammable clothing and bedding, caustic household chemicals, nutritional supplements, space heaters, pool equipment, and recreational vehicles. In the workplace, our lawyers have sought compensation from the makers of unsafe saws, ladders, scaffolds, lifts, lathes, and metal forming machinery in cases of construction site accidents.
Contact The Walkup Law Firm For Qualified Product Liability Representation
Our California product liability litigation lawyers are dedicated to compelling manufacturers to produce safe products and to holding manufacturers accountable when they do not. When you suffer an injury because of a defective product, whether the defect is in the design, manufacture, packaging, instructions or warnings, you have the right to seek financial compensation.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective consumer product, call the Walkup firm at (415) 981-7210 or contact us online. Arrange a free consultation where our attorneys can review your case and help explain your options.
Examples Of Our Success In Consumer Product Liability Cases
Defective Bike Helmet — $17 Million Verdict
Our attorneys obtained a jury verdict in Santa Clara County Superior Court against the largest maker and seller of bicycle safety helmets in the United States. Our client, a 53-year-old software engineer, sustained significant brain injury when he fell from his bicycle and struck his head. The helmet he was wearing did not protect the most vulnerable portions of his head. Our attorneys demonstrated that although “certified” to industry standards, the helmet failed to provide protection where it was needed most. Our client sustained brain damage and paralysis. The jury’s award included compensation both to him and his wife. The elements of compensation included past and future medical bills, lost wages, and a sum to compensate him for his special needs throughout the balance of his life.
Defective Industrial Aerial Lift — $10 Million Settlement
Our attorneys represented the surviving wife and two children of a Northern California real estate developer. While participating as a passenger in a “ride along” on a self-propelled man lift (which was to be used for accessing heating and ventilating ducting in his real estate projects) the decedent was killed when the lift tipped over. Our product liability team demonstrated that the lift, as designed, had a center of gravity that was too high and the risk of tip-over was not adequately addressed either by a widened wheelbase or the use of outriggers.
The manufacturer attempted to blame the operator of the device for driving it on an uneven exterior surface when, in fact, the lift was intended for indoor use. The recovery made on behalf of our clients included compensation for future lost earnings of the decedent and general damages for the loss of a husband and father’s love, care, comfort, and society. The settlement included periodic court-supervised payments throughout the lives of the two children to provide for college education and security during their young adult years.
Death Of Husband And Father — Mismatched Car And Trailer — $5.25 Million Settlement
Our product liability lawyers negotiated a cash and annuity settlement having a present value of $5.25 million on behalf of the surviving widow and two minor children of a 42-year-old fire captain who was killed when his SUV rolled over on Highway 50 while pulling an “ultralight” travel trailer. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendant motorhome retailer inappropriately sold the family a trailer that was too large to be safely pulled by their small SUV.
They also claimed that the retailer failed to advise them that if the travel trailer were loaded to its maximum capacity (as specified by the trailer manufacturer), it would weigh 1,400 pounds more than the maximum weight recommended by the SUV manufacturer. While traveling on Highway 50, passing a semi truck, the trailer was hit by a gust of wind, causing it to fishtail, go out of control and roll over, pulling the towing SUV with it.
The defendants claimed that had the decedent read the owner’s manuals for his vehicle and the trailer, he would have observed warnings in both manuals regarding overloading and that by weighing the vehicles, he could have avoided the situation that produced his death. The settlement was reached after three medications.
Defective Industrial Metal Forming Machine — $4.5 Million Settlement
We successfully represented the interests of a 42-year-old metal worker who suffered a catastrophic brain injury after a 50-pound piece of metal was ejected from a metal-forming lathe manufactured by the defendant, a Japanese corporation. On behalf of our brain-damaged client, our attorneys demonstrated that the lathe had been manufactured and sold without analyzing all possible failure modes and without including protection for workpieces or chuck components to be contained within the chamber of the lathe.
Our attorneys were able to prove that the manufacturer knew of at least two similar lathe accidents, but had taken no remedial action. Under the terms of the settlement, approximately 75 percent was paid in cash, and 25 percent was dedicated to the purchase of multiple annuities to help pay for ongoing medical costs and to provide financial support for the wife and children of our injured client. As part of the settlement, a workers’ compensation lien in excess of $1 million was also compromised and waived.
Defective Folding Bicycle – $4.2 Million Settlement
Our consumer product liability group recovered$4,173,975 on behalf of a 53-year-old man who was rendered a quadriplegic. The plaintiff was riding his folding bicycle and as he approached a wide and busy intersection, he entered the intersection just as his light turned green.
Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, a taxicab was still clearing the intersection. Once he saw the taxi, the plaintiff slammed on his brakes, flew over the handlebars of his bicycle and the hood of the taxicab, and landed on his head, causing quadriplegia. The design of the bicycle placed the rider’s center of gravity very high and his body very close to the handlebars, making the bicycle unstable and the rider prone to flipping over.
Defective Personal Watercraft — $3.76 Million Jury Verdict
Our product liability trial lawyers obtained a jury verdict in Napa County Superior Court in the amount of $3.76 million on behalf of a 42-year-old woman who received serious and life-altering abdominal injuries when she fell from the rear of a Polaris model SLH-700 personal watercraft.
The injury, which occurred on Lake Berryessa, was the result of a high-pressure jet stream from the rear of the watercraft flowing into our client’s lower intestinal tract. She sustained damage to her bladder and sacral plexus, cosmetic scarring over her abdomen, and serious orifice injuries. Prior to trial, the maker of the personal watercraft had offered only $100,000 in settlement. The verdict is one of the largest in the history of Napa County.
Defective Pool Heater — $2 Million Settlement
We obtained a $2 million settlement on behalf of the surviving mother of a university student who was killed when the family’s pool heater generated excessive amounts of carbon monoxide, which entered the student’s bedroom via forced air heating ducts. Although advertised as including “fail-safe” components that would prevent generation of excessive amounts of carbon monoxide, the heater malfunctioned when installed in a way contrary to the instructions.
The installer, who was uncertified, failed to vent the unit to outside air. When the heater malfunctioned internally, burning a too-rich mixture of fuel and air, the improperly vented system recirculated CO-filled air that had already become contaminated, further elevating the CO levels to ultimately fatal limits.
Defective Catheter — $1.19 Million Settlement
Our lawyers concluded a medical negligence wrongful death case for $1.19 million on behalf of the family of a 44-year-old husband and father who died after undergoing heart surgery. The patient had presented to the defendant hospital following an abnormal stress echocardiogram and an episode of cardiac arrhythmia. His physicians performed coronary artery bypass grafting on four coronary vessels.
The decedent developed an aortic dissection intraoperatively that resulted in multiorgan failure and his death. The plaintiffs contended that the aortic dissection was caused by an experimental catheter that was being tested by the defendant medical device company in clinical trials at the defendant hospital.