Products liability cases, some of which may be mass tort lawsuits, arise from defective or dangerous consumer products. Several examples that have been in the news in recent years include airbags, baby powder, pesticides and weed killers, e-cigarettes, diet pills, prescription drugs, and medical devices.
Types of Products Liability Claims
Companies that manufacture defective products as well as those who sell such products may be liable for strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, or fraudulent misrepresentation.
Strict liability means that consumers only need to prove that they were harmed by a dangerous or defective product and that injuries were foreseeable by the makers or sellers of the product.
In a negligence claim, a consumer must prove that the manufacturer or distributor had a duty to make or sell safe products but acted carelessly or recklessly in doing so (or failed to warn of the danger), and that the consumer was injured by the product.
Types of Defects in Products
The main types of defects in consumer products are:
- Design defects
- Manufacturing defects
- Warning or labeling defects
A design defect means the product was flawed or dangerous before it was even made. The way it was designed makes it inherently unsafe.
A manufacturing defect, in turn, means the product may have been designed to be safe, but it was not produced properly, making it dangerous or defective. Most products that are the subject of lawsuits are defective because of manufacturing defects.
Finally, even if a product was designed and manufactured properly, it may be inherently dangerous (for example, products that contain sharp or small parts that can lead to cuts or choking). In such instances, the manufacturer and seller must make sure that there are adequate warning labels to alert consumers to potential injuries from using or mis-using the product.
Products Liability Lawsuits
Claims or lawsuits for defective or dangerous products may be filed by individuals in state or federal court. In situations where a large number of consumers were injured by the same product, their cases (broadly referred to as mass torts) may be consolidated in federal multi-district litigation (MDL) or consolidated into a single class-action lawsuit.
In MDL, even though the litigation procedures are streamlined and overseen by one federal judge, each plaintiff’s case remains individual and unique, and they are represented by their own attorneys. One or more of these cases may proceed to trial as “bellwether” cases to give the parties involved a sense of how all of the other cases may turn out, but each plaintiff gets part of an award or settlement based on their particular injuries. Plaintiffs who do not wish to settle are free to continue with their own lawsuit against the manufacturer.
In class action lawsuits, on the other hand, a large number of plaintiffs is combined into a single case that is decided all at once and is usually handled by a single law firm. One or a small number of plaintiffs are named in the suit as the representatives of the class. If the plaintiffs settle or win at trial, each plaintiff gets an equal (rather than proportionate) share, although they may opt out of the settlement.
Current or Recent Lawsuits
Some current or recent products liability mass tort cases include:
- Talcum powder (baby powder made by Johnson & Johnson)
- Roundup (weed killer produced by Bayer)
- JUUL e-cigarettes
- Prescription drugs including:
- Proton pump inhibitors like Zantac, Nexium and Prilosec
- Onglyza Type II diabetes medication
- Tenofovir (common brand names are Vemidy and Viread)
- Medical devices such as:
- Essure permanent birth control,
- Allergan or Mentor breast implants
- Bard hernia meshes
If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous or defective product, prescription drug, medical device or accident, you might have a products liability case as well as a mass torts case. Injuries or death resulting from dangerous or defective products may give you the right to damages for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and others.
At Ahava Law Group, our attorneys are experienced in products liability and mass torts. Contact us at 888-554-9998 or submit a ‘Contact Us’ form for a free consultation and evaluation of your rights. You are only responsible for fees and costs if any money is recovered on your behalf.