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.
Product Defects Under Georgia Law
Under Georgia law, a manufacturer must exercise reasonable care in manufacturing its products in order to make products that are reasonably safe for intended or foreseeable uses. Under OCGA § 51-1-11(b)(1), a manufacturer can be held liable under strict liability for injuries from a product that “was not merchantable and reasonably suited to the use intended” when sold by the manufacturer, and its condition was the proximate cause of the injury. There are three general categories of product defects: marketing/packaging defects, manufacturing defects, and design defects.
In design defect cases in Georgia, Georgia courts consider the risks of the product weighed against the product’s use by using a “risk-utility analysis.” In this case, the plaintiffs did not offer evidence about the risk the heating pad posed, such as the amount of heat necessary to ignite objects or the likelihood of the danger. The plaintiffs also failed to present evidence concerning the effectiveness or cost of safety mechanisms.
The court also explained that a heating pad must contain a heating mechanism, which is capable of producing a dangerous condition on its own. Thus, the court found that the plaintiffs failed to show the fire was the result of a defective design. The court also noted that the only evidence the plaintiffs provided to show that the heating pad caused the fire was an opinion of the fire chief, who claimed that he was not sure of the fire’s origin. Therefore, based on the evidence the plaintiffs presented, the court dismissed the case.
Contact an Atlanta Injury Attorney
Accidents can have devastating consequences on victims. If you have suffered an injury, you should consult with an Atlanta personal injury lawyer who understands how to help you seek full and fair compensation for your injuries. At the McAleer Law Firm, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve, including damages for lost wages, lost quality of life, and past and future medical expenses. We believe everyone should have equal access to justice. Contact us online or call us at 1-404-622-5337. All initial consultations are free, and you pay no fee unless we recover money on your behalf.
See More Posts:
Georgia Court Permits Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall Case to Proceed against Maintenance Company, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, December 18, 2018.
Georgia Court Allows Maintenance Worker’s Premises Liability Case to Proceed Against Apartment Complex, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, January 2, 2019.