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Articles Posted in Products Liability

Overlawyered has a blog post today about the reports of a high school pitcher suing his school district because he wore out his arm throwing 140 pitches in a single game. Here is the gist of the story from the Seattle Times: Seven years ago, Plaintiff was pitching against a rival school. He had no plans to take himself out of the game. In the eighth inning his mother, assuming you believe her story, told coach, “He’s at 117 pitches. He’s done.” (How many mothers out there are keeping exact pitch counts?) You know the rest of the story. The Plaintiff hurts his arm. He thinks he was the next coming of Roger Clemens… better make that Greg Maddux… and files suit claiming the coach should have pulled him out of the game.

Overlawyered and the Maryland Lawyer Blog agree that the possibility of a lawsuit causes people to act differently than they otherwise would. Where we disagree is whether, on balance, this is a good thing for society. For example, football coaches now know that depriving kids of water during practice is a bad thing and their doing so may expose the school to liability. In this area I think coaches already have proper incentive to do the right thing and this will only serve to exaggerate the risk of a “pitch count” lawsuit. Even if this is what I believe is the first lawsuit of its kind in this country. Obviously every baseball coach around the country is going to be talking about this and many are going to become worried about pitch counts.

Awareness of valid lawsuits properly encourages people (including doctors) to proceed with caution and to consider the risks that may cause harm. Frivolous lawsuits like this one have the opposite effect and are going to have some coaches – a small minority but still some – overreacting and limiting kids to ridiculously low pitch counts. But just as free speech requires us to tolerate hate speech, the search for justice requires us to tolerate some level of frivolous lawsuits. Whatever inertia this country has towards tort reform, it comes in no small measure from mainstream media and Internet reports (many of which are simply false) of ridiculous lawsuits.

The Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog has a post today about the value of personal injury cases involving the loss of vision in one eye. We have a vision loss in one eye case now pending against Home Depot and Chapin International, a New York company that makes the Chapin Sprayer. We contend that our client lost vision in his eye as the result of a design defect in the Chapin Sprayer 2002. I’m writing this blog post because I would like to get into contact with any other Plaintiffs’ products liability lawyers who may have a similar design defect case against Chapin so that we can share information.

We think this model Chapin Sprayer 2002 is defective for several reasons. First, it is designed and manufactured with a nipple coming off the tank facing upward in a direction that would likely cause an eye injury. Other Chapin models such as the Spray and Go have the nipple designed to come off the side of the tank in a direction not pointed towards the user’s eye. Second, this model did not have a pressure relief valve, which is the safety feature in nearly every other Chapin model. Third, this model was packaged in such a way that the hose was not connected to the tank when it was delivered to the customer. Most of the Chapin sprayers and other sprayers have the hose attached to the tank by a metal crimp or by the factory so that the attachment is more secure than relying on the customer to make this attachment. Fourth, the nut to attach the hose to the tank was not provided to the purchaser. Finally, there were no warnings to indicate that the end-user should not use this sprayer with dangerous chemicals, inadequately attached hoses, missing nuts, bib connection pointed toward the eye, and no pressure relief valve.

If you are a lawyer who has a design defect case involving the Chapin Sprayer in 2002, give me a call. We have a great deal of information on this product to share and, hopefully, you will have some information for us as well on this Chapin Sprayer.

A recent editorial in Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology reports findings of perforations in St. Jude Riata defibrillator leads. Coming on the heels of the recent Medtronic defibrillator lead recall, this editorial raises additional manufacturing concerns about some of St. Jude’s newer and thinner leads. These perforations, coupled with their late presentation, pose a duel threat to patients. The lead perforation sometimes is not caught until it is “well beyond the right ventricular free wall” and protruding centimeters into surrounding tissue. This protrusion can lead to complications which can cause a lot of complications, including sudden death.

St. Jude has responded to these concerns by citing product analysis data showing that the perforation rate of St. Jude’s Riata lead wires is lower than the rates reported by similar leads. But, honestly, on the heals of the Medtronic recall, my confidence in reports from medical device companies about their safety and efficacy data is about the same as my confidence in Brittany Spears’ parenting skills.

Two Kansas City men have filed separate class-action lawsuits in the Medtronic defibrillator lead recall cases. Interesting, because Kansas City is in two states, the men have filed separate lawsuits in two different states.

Our Medtronic lead recall lawyers suspect all of these individual class actions will be consolidated in an MDL in one jurisdiction, most likely in Minnesota. Tomorrow, I will write about what the MDL is and how it will probably be applied in the Medtronic cases.

Yesterday, a Nevada jury awarded $99 million in punitive damages to three women who claimed their breast cancer was caused by Wyeth’s hormone replacement drugs, Premarin and Prempro. The jury had originally awarded $134.5 million, which was reduced to $35 million after the jury indicated that the original verdict had also included punitive damages. So in the punitive damages phase, the jury tacked back on the $99 million.

These are 3 of the more than 5,000 lawsuits that have been filed around the country involving Premarin and Prempro, which are hormone replacement drugs intended to ease the symptoms of menopause.

A national study of hormone replacement therapy that had been conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002, found that Prempro increased the risk of several ailments, including stroke, heart disease, and breast cancer. Incredibly, these drugs remain on the market.

The Minnesota Supreme Court released an opinion last week, stating that an exception to Minnesota’s seat belt gag rule permitted a three-year-old child to sue his parents for not properly buckling his seat belt. The suit contended that the parents failed to discover and remove a coin from the buckle mechanism of the child’s car seat. His grandparents brought the suit on behalf of the child, presumably with their consent and encouragement.

The case’s facts are unimaginable. This boy’s seatbelt came off when an uninsured motorist struck his father’s SUV. Their SUV flipped and the boy’s car seat became unbuckled. The boy is now a quadriplegic confined to a wheelchair and will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life. It is difficult to conjure up a greater tragedy.

Minnesota has a law that makes the Plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt inadmissible at trial. As I have written in the past, Maryland has a similar law on seat belt use admissibility at trial. A claim was brought and settled against the parents and the manufacturer of the restraint system, based on the Minnesota seat belt statute’s gag rule allowing claims for “an action…for defectively designed, manufactured, installed, or operating seat belt restraint systems.” Progressive Insurance made the argument that the plain meaning language of the seat belt gag rule statute clarified that the exception was intended to apply to manufacturers of car seats or seat belts, and not to those who may have negligently buckled or maintained a seat belt.