Articles Posted in Products Liability

A Georgia appeals court recently considered a case against the manufacturer of a heating pad, in which the plaintiffs alleged that the company’s heating pad caused a mattress to catch on fire and burned down their house.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff used a heating pad to relieve neck pain one evening. After the plaintiff had been sleeping for about an hour, a family member came to check on her and noticed that the heating pad had burned into the mattress, and the mattress and curtains were in flames. Ultimately, the entire house burned down.

The plaintiffs claimed that the company was liable because the heating pad suffered from a defective design. They claimed the heating pad was defective in being able to reach such high temperatures as to light the mattress on fire, and also that it lacked safety mechanisms to adjust the temperature and to cool itself off when it reached dangerously high temperatures.

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Salmonella is one of the many intestinal infections that can result in sickness and deaths to millions of people in the United States every year. Salmonella infections typically occur when a person consumes food that contains the bacteria. However, it can also incur when someone ingests the feces of an infected animal or human. Those who have suffered sickness or severe illness related to salmonella should contact a Georgia product liability attorney to discuss their rights and remedies under the law.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), salmonella bacteria cause over 1.30 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and over 400 deaths in the United States every year. The vast majority of the cases are related to ingesting contaminated food. The most common sources of salmonella are under-cooked or raw eggs, milk, meat, contaminated water, and raw fruits and vegetables. Individuals who contract the bacteria may experience diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and cramping. These symptoms typically begin between 6 hours to 6 days after infection and can last up to a week. This bacteria can be deadly to vulnerable individuals, including pregnant women, young children, older adults, and those with underlying health conditions. Some people may recover without treatment, but it is essential that individuals consult with a health professional to ensure that they do not suffer complications.

According to a recent news report, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release indicating that 68 people across nine states had suffered illnesses after consuming bagged peaches. The FDA believes that the bagged peaches contained salmonella. The packaging company packed the peaches in two-pound plastic bags starting at the beginning of June. Many of the victims purchased the products at Aldis; however, the packing company stated that the peaches were sold to stores in 16 states.

It’s everyone’s worst nightmare—buying a new product, trusting in the product’s quality and safety from the manufacturer, and then subsequently being severely injured by the product. When these accidents occur, the company who manufactured and produced the product should be held accountable under Georgia product liability law. Sometimes, however, injuries from these accidents are made worse because of the negligence or actions of the owner and purchaser of the product. When this happens, the plaintiff may be unable to receive the full amount of damages from their claim because their actions contributed to their injuries.

In a recent opinion released by the state’s high court, the court considered a product liability case involving apportionment of damages. The plaintiff was seriously injured when the front brake on his motorcycle failed suddenly. Following the accident, he sued the designer and manufacturer of the motorcycle and its distributor, asserting strict product liability claims based on a design defect and negligence. The plaintiff’s wife also sued for loss of consortium.

During the trial, the plaintiffs presented evidence that the brake failure resulted from a design defect that misdirected the flow of brake fluid and eventually caused the brakes to fail. Two months after the plaintiff’s accident, the defendant issued a recall notice about the brake and had notice of the issue for a significant time before the plaintiff’s accident. The plaintiff also admitted that contrary to the instructions provided in the owner’s manual to replace the brake fluid every two years; he never changed the fluid in the eight years he owned the motorcycle. Following the trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs on all claims and apportioned 49% of the fault to the plaintiffs and 51% to the defendants, which reduced their damages. The plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the lower court erred in reducing their damage awards.

Whether it’s a busy weeknight or a lazy weekend, frozen food items are an occasional must-have in any household. What happens, however, when your favorite frozen meal or snack contains extraneous objects, like plastic or glass? Even worse, what if that plastic or glass in your food injures you? Although this may seem uncommon, the company that produced the food item that causes an injury may face a Georgia product liability claim in the event its defective product hits the grocery shelves and goes home with unknowing consumers.

According to a recent news report, certain pepperoni Hot Pockets have been recalled because pieces of glass and hard plastic were found by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The recall applied to 54-ounce 12 packs of pepperoni Hot Pockets with a “best by” date of February 2022. According to federal officials, the Hot Pockets were part of a Class I recall, which involves a “health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.” Since the product has been recalled, there have been four consumer complaints of contamination, one of which involved a minor oral injury.

In Georgia, there are specific laws that govern what happens when you are injured by a defective product. To ensure that you are eligible to receive financial compensation for your injuries, potential plaintiffs are advised to hire an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney who can help them navigate the legal system and its procedures with ease.

In March 2019, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia personal injury case discussing the element of causation, as well as the type and quantity of evidence that a plaintiff must present to survive a defense motion for summary judgment. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff failed to present any evidence showing that the defendant’s actions caused her injuries. Thus, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a homeowner who hired the defendant to install a smoke detector system in her home. In the months after the installation, the plaintiff called the defendant several times because the system was not working. The last time the defendant was at the plaintiff’s home was November 2007.

In August 2008, the plaintiff was cooking on the stove when she went to lie on the couch. The plaintiff inadvertently nodded off, and after an estimated three or four minutes, she woke up to the smell of smoke. The plaintiff went into the kitchen, but because of the smoke, she was unsure whether the source of the smoke was the pan or the chicken that she was cooking. As the plaintiff turned the stove knob to the off position, she poured flour into the pan, in an attempt to smother the flame. The contents of the pan bubbled over onto her hand, causing serious burns. The smoke detector did not sound an alarm, and it was later determined that the smoke detector did not have a required piece installed.

In a recent Georgia food poisoning case, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the lower courts’ decision to dismiss a plaintiff’s case. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the appropriate burden a plaintiff bringing a food-poisoning case has at the summary judgment stage. Ultimately, the court concluded that the lower courts imposed too high a burden on the plaintiffs’ case when they required the plaintiffs to make “every other reasonable hypothesis regarding the cause of their illness.”

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were two wedding guests who became violently ill several days after consuming food prepared by the defendant caterer at the wedding rehearsal dinner. The plaintiffs filed a Georgia products liability case against the caterer, claiming that the food was “defective, pathogen-contaminated, undercooked, and negligently prepared.”

The defendant caterer filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs’ case should be dismissed because they did not present sufficient evidence that the defendant’s food caused their illness. In support of its motion, the defendant caterer made the following arguments:

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In a recent case, the Supreme Court of Georgia decided that a wrongful death lawsuit can be limited by a previous personal injury settlement. The case is an important decision for Georgia personal injury and wrongful death plaintiffs.

The Facts of the Case

A woman was in a car accident that left her in a permanent coma. Her husband filed a personal injury lawsuit on her behalf against Toyota, alleging that her Toyota vehicle had a defective seatbelt latch and door-locking mechanism. The case went to trial, but before the jury returned a verdict, the plaintiff and Toyota entered into a “high-low” settlement agreement.

The agreement provided that if the jury found in favor of Toyota, the plaintiff would still recover a certain amount of money. However, if the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, Toyota would only be liable up to a certain amount of money. Thus, the agreement guaranteed the plaintiff a recovery, but a limited one.

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In personal injury cases, before a case reaches trial, the parties engage in the discovery process. Discovery is the stage of litigation at which the parties exchange requested information that is relevant to the case or may lead to the discovery of other relevant evidence.The rules of discovery require that parties make certain evidence available for the opposing side, even if that evidence is not favorable to the party that possesses the evidence. Along those lines, the rules prohibit the destruction of discoverable evidence. A recent Georgia personal injury case takes a look at when a plaintiff’s obligation to preserve evidence arises.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a man who was involved in a serious car accident after the tread on one of his vehicle’s tires separated. After the accident, the plaintiff’s husband was taken to the hospital, where he remained unresponsive for several days.

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On March 6, 2012, an woman was driving her four-year-old nephew to a tennis lesson when she was hit by another car. As the woman was waiting to make a left-hand turn, a pickup truck crashed into the back of the car. The gas tank of the Grand Cherokee the woman was driving, which was located behind the rear axle, was punctured as a result of the collision. Soon afterward, gas began to leak, causing the Jeep to catch fire. The woman was able to escape, but tragically she could not save her nephew, who was in the backseat.The child’s parents filed a lawsuit against Chrysler, alleging that it acted with a reckless or wanton disregard for human life in its design or sale of the Grand Cherokee and breached a duty to warn the public of the danger. The case went to trial, and the jury found in favor of the parents. On appeal, Chrysler argued the court should not have allowed the jury to hear evidence about 17 other rear-end collisions involving Jeeps. In Chrysler Group LLC v. Walden, a Georgia appeals court found the trial court properly allowed the jury to hear the evidence.

To support the claim that Chrysler knew of the danger of the gas tank’s location, the parents submitted evidence of 17 other crashes involving Jeeps in which the Jeeps were rear-ended and gas leaked. In those cases, the fuel tanks were also located behind the rear axle. In those incidents, the Jeep was rear-ended, and fuel escaped from the tank. The parents also presented evidence that Chrysler had notice of those crashes before this tragic crash occurred.

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In a recent case, a woman sued a tire manufacturer after her husband died in a tragic car accident. She alleged that the company was liable based on negligent design and manufacturing, strict liability, and failure to warn, arising from the tire’s tread separation. The parties exchanged discovery, and during that period, the company learned the woman had kept only the “carcass” of the tire from the accident. The issue arose whether the woman should have retained the entire vehicle, and if so, whether she should face any court sanctions for destroying the vehicle.Apparently, after the accident had occurred, a service came to transport the wrecked car. The owner of the service later told the woman she was incurring a daily storage fee to keep the car there. The company’s owner offered to sell the car to a salvage yard in exchange for waiving the fee. The car had been totaled, so the woman did not see any reason to keep the car and agreed to allow the owner to sell the car. At the time, the woman’s husband was still alive in critical condition and had told the woman the tire had blown up and caused the accident. Thus, thinking the tire may be a necessary piece of evidence, the woman told the owner to keep the left rear tire. Although the tire itself was saved, the remnants of the detached tread, the other tires, and the wheel on which the tire was mounted were all destroyed.

Because of the woman’s actions, evidence relevant to the lawsuit had been destroyed. As a result, the tire company moved to dismiss the complaint or to bar the woman from presenting evidence to rebut the company’s defense as a sanction for the woman’s conduct. A Georgia court denied the company’s motion and declined to sanction her for her conduct. A Georgia appeals court upheld the decision. The court agreed that it was not reasonably foreseeable for the woman at the time to have known litigation would occur. Thus, her duty to preserve evidence was not triggered, and she was not sanctioned.

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