Articles Posted in Product Liability

Published on:

There’s no doubt that tobacco is a booming business – and products liability issues have no qualms about riding in on the coattails of success. Many consumers’ complaints stem from the assertion that tobacco companies knew about and concealed the risks associated with smoking, and it certainly has been a quarter of a century since the U.S. has seen a significant change to its cigarette packs. The most recent alteration was in the 1980s and mandated a warning label – a small box with black and white text that could easily be overlooked.

Now, says the Associated Press, the Food and Drug Administration has released nine new warning labels that depict “in graphic detail the negative effects of tobacco use” and are sure to make the average consumer take a second look. Among the photos are: the corpse of a smoker, diseased lungs, teeth and gums and a mother holding her baby with smoke swirling around them. The accompanying phrases will serve to highlight the long-term effects of tobacco use, as will the inclusion of the number to a national quitting hotline. The graphic warning labels were required in a 2009 law that gave the federal government authority to regulate tobacco for the first time in our nation’s history, and advocates against smoking, like the American Cancer Society, hope that it will effectively deter non-smokers from picking up the habit. It may have some major implications for personal injury litigation as well.

An experienced plaintiff’s products liability lawyer knows that tobacco lawsuits are already very complex and difficult to litigate. For example, claims for personal injuries resulting from the use of tobacco products that relate to promotional or advertising communications or the adequacy of warnings are subject to the federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act and must be brought under that Act rather than under comparable state law. Even more importantly, assumption of risk has long been a choice defense for tobacco companies and now that the warning on the pack is being made more prominent, it may become even more difficult to litigate such cases – especially when juries feel there were stronger contributing factors to the plaintiff’s illness or are convinced that the plaintiff was made aware of the risks of smoking and chose to accept those risks.

Published on:

In a fairly major nod towards products liability issues in the toy industry, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Health Canada are warning consumers about toy helicopters and parts with model numbers BLH350, BHL3500 and BHL3514 that were sold at retailers during March of this year. As an Atlanta personal injury lawyer, I know that the reality of this recall is that children have suffered an injury.

Toy safety is a pervasive issue for concerned parents that continues to rear its ugly head. Dangers come in all forms – from faulty or too small parts to hazardous toxins and chemicals. Over the past 25 years, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has helped to identify many of these risks. Their efforts, the efforts of similar organizations, and an unprecedented amount of toy recalls and injuries undoubtedly helped drive Congress to make a more substantial and overt move towards rectifying the situation.

In this particular case, approximately 18,000 sold in the United States and Canada are being voluntarily recalled because they pose potential impact and laceration hazards. There have been 312 reports of the rotor blades of these models being released from the motor head. 34 of those incidents resulted in a user being struck, and another 12 resulting in lacerations to a user’s person, according to the CPSC.
Continue reading →

Published on:

Jump houses come in all forms and cater to children’s imaginations: slides, castles, ships, even obstacle courses. They offer parents much needed respite during outdoor playtime and are a popular item at parties. However, as a personal injury attorney in Atlanta, I know that, on breezy afternoons, they can also come with many perils. An accident this summer hammered home these little-known hazards when a gust of wind suddenly sent three inflatables at a youth soccer tournament soaring into the air – with children inside. According to the Associated Press, a mother was seriously injured when one landed on her, but the children only suffered minor bumps and bruises.

An AP interview with Jim Barber, a spokesman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials, revealed that accidents like these happen all the time. In fact, the situation is so severe that in 2001, the Consumer Product Safety Commission came out with a bulletin on how to safely operate inflatable products. A 2005 report linked the growing popularity of inflatables with an increasing number of injuries treated at hospital emergency rooms from 1997 to 2004. One of the best manners of determining a safety issue with a product is to evaluate the number of emergency room visits that result from the use of the product. An increase in emergency room visits over a 7 year period of time points to a real issue with inflatables.

Interestingly enough, the real problem may not be with the huge toys themselves, but with the people who supervise them. Guidelines for carnival, fair and amusement parks rides are fairly strict, but bouncy houses are usually not included in this category. Many states lack regulations that monitor the training requirements for handlers and operators. This is, I think, because such laws are created at the state level and many legislators are not yet aware of the real problems posed. Perhaps this incident, and the media attention it’s garnering, will be the catalyst that inspires lawmakers to take a closer look at what can be done to ensure the safety of our children.

Contact Information