Articles Posted in Dangerous/Defective Products

Published on:

When someone is injured by a dangerous or defective product, Georgia law permits the victim to bring a personal injury claim against not only the product’s manufacturer, but in some cases against the retailer that sold the product, as well. More precisely, the seller can be held responsible if the evidence shows it had “actual or constructive knowledge that the product was unreasonably dangerous at the time of sale.”

Gomez v. Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc.

To give an illustration of how the law is applied in practice, here is a recent decision from a federal judge in Athens, Georgia, in an ongoing seller liability case. This lawsuit centers on an allegedly defective plastic gas can purchased from a Harbor Freight store in Valdosta in 2012. The plaintiffs are not the original purchaser, but rather her neighbors.

Published on:

Guardrail accidents have gained increasing public attention in recent years. A guardrail is supposed to help a vehicle absorb the impact of a collision, but in far too many cases, it is the guardrail that causes serious injury or death. As reported by ABC News in 2014, a University of Alabama study found that “a re-designed version of a widely used guardrail end terminal ‘placed motorists at a higher level of risk of both serious injury and fatality’ than the original version.”

Stopanio v. Leon’s Fence and Guardrail, LLC

More recently, the Georgia Court of Appeals addressed the potential legal liability of the state Department of Transportation and one of its private contractors for an allegedly defective guardrail. This tragic case began with a 2011 accident on I-75. The plaintiff was driving southbound on the highway through Valdosta. Traveling in front of the plaintiff was a second car containing her parents.

Published on:

When it comes to product liability, Georgia courts have long held that a manufacturer can be held responsible for its “failure to warn” customers about potentially harmful defects that it knew about (or should have known about). This duty extends to any “nonobvious foreseeable danger” arising from the normal use of a given product. In other words, a manufacturer has no duty to warn you of the risks of using its product in something other than its intended manner.

Reichwaldt v. General Motors LLC

Does this duty to warn extend to third parties–i.e., individuals other than the actual customers–who may be harmed by the normal use of the product? In 2016 we discussed a Georgia Supreme Court decision, Certainteed Corporation v. Fletcher, involving a pipe manufacturer whose products contained asbestos. In that case, a woman developed mesothelioma after inhaling asbestos dust from clothing worn by her father, who worked with the defendant’s pipes. The Supreme Court said it was “disinclined” to hold that the manufacturer “owed a duty to warn third parties based on the fact that, in this case, such a warning may have been effective.”

Published on:

“Keep your eyes on the road,” is something every parent tells their teenager when teaching them how to drive. But paying attention to the road has become increasingly difficult in recent years with the advent of smartphone technology that makes it easy for people to text or chat with their friends while driving. “Distracted driving” is now considered a public safety problem on par with drunk driving.

More Than 3,000 Distracted Driving Deaths Every Year

The dangers of distracted driving are quite real. According to a recent New York Times article, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 272 teenagers were killed throughout the country in 2015 in “distraction-affected” car accidents. Overall, 3,263 out of 3,477 crash-related deaths in 2015–94%–involved distracted driving.

Published on:

Every day, millions of parents entrust the safety of their children to the cars they drive. If there is a defect in a vehicle’s manufacture or design, a parent may not learn about until it is too late and their child has paid the price. When that happens, parents understandably want to hold the vehicle manufacturer responsible.

Chrysler Group, LLC v. Walden

The Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed such a terrible and tragic case. In 2012, a woman was driving her 4-year-old nephew to an activity when her Jeep Grand Cherokee was rear-ended by another driver. Upon impact, the Jeep’s fuel tank exploded, setting the vehicle on fire. According to court records, the 4-year-old “was alive and conscious while the Grand Cherokee was on fire and may have lived up to a minute with flames in contact with his body” before he died.

Published on:

We often hear about cases in which a person is injured in an accident due to a defect in the manufacturing of a car. But there are also cases in which someone may be injured due to an improper repair made to a car. As with manufacturing and design defects, a bad repair may not be immediately obvious to the driver, yet still produce catastrophic effects months, even years, later.

Lee v. Universal Underwriters Insurance Company

In 2005, a well-known auto manufacturer issued a recall for one of its 2000 model-year vehicles. An owner of one such vehicle brought his car to a Georgia dealership to receive the appropriate repairs. Unfortunately, the dealership’s service technician did not perform the repair correctly, causing damage to the vehicle’s cruise-control cable.

Published on:

In a product liability case, a plaintiff attempts to hold a defendant responsible for the negligent design of a product that caused injury. But, what if the “product” is a public roadway maintained by private contractors? Can a plaintiff injured in an automobile accident caused by a defectively maintained road sue the contractor responsible for the maintenance? The Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed this question.

Brown v. Seaboard Construction Company

The plaintiff in this case was injured in a one-car accident. She was a passenger in a vehicle traveling down a causeway. The car hit a pothole filled with water, causing the vehicle to hydroplane and collide with a nearby guardrail.

Published on:

General Motors recently issued a sweeping recall for a more than 2.5 million vehicles sold between 2005 and 2011. The recall includes the Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5, Saturn Ion, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky models. According to GM, the vehicles have a defective ignition switch that affects the operation of the airbag system.

This is not a minor safety issue. GM itself acknowledged their faulty ignition switches can be linked to at least 31 motor vehicle accidents and 13 deaths. The Detroit-based automaker now faces a number of lawsuits, including a class action complaint filed in Texas seeking upwards of $10 billion for GM customers who purchased the defective vehicles. Another lawsuit, filed in San Francisco, claims GM’s efforts to fix the recalled vehicles are “insufficient” and that there is a second ignition-switch defect the company has yet to address. Altogether, GM has been been named a defendant in at least 37 cases spanning 17 separate federal courts. In addition to litigation, multiple government agencies, including the United States Department of Justice and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have opened investigations into GM’s mismanagement.

Will GM Escape Responsibility?

Published on:

Expert testimony is often the key to winning a product liability case. If an expert witness proves inadequate, the plaintiff’s case may not survive long enough to get in front of a jury. To give a recent example, a federal judge in Savannah gutted most of a plaintiff’s case on summary judgment after determining his expert witness was unqualified and unreliable.

Grieco v. Tecumesh Products Company

The plaintiff worked as a repairman. In 2010, while making repairs to the compressor of a walk-in refrigerator, the compressor caught fire, burning the repairman’s hair, shoulder and arms. He subsequently sued the manufacturer of the compressor, alleging numerous product liability and breach of warranty claims. (Although the plaintiff’s claims are governed by Georgia state law, his case is being tried in federal court, as the manufacturer is an out-of-state corporation.)

Published on:

Is a used car dealer responsible for selling a van with defective tires? A divided Georgia Court of Appeals recently weighed in on this question, declaring that dealers are not negligent when they fail to perform a basic inspection that would show a vehicle they sold had the wrong make and size of tires. car crash.jpg

The court’s decision arose from a fatal 2008 accident involving a Chevrolet Sport passenger van. In 2006, Redding Swainsboro Ford Lincoln Mercury acquired the van as a customer trade-in. Redding then sold the van wholesale to another dealer, S&S Auto Sales. S&S in turn sold the van to a passenger transportation company. The company used the van to transport workers to a poultry processing plant. In May 2008, the driver lost control of the van when the tread belt on the left-front tire separated. The van crossed the opposing traffic lane and crashed into a tree. One of the eight passengers died and the other seven suffered serious injuries.

According to the passengers, the tire that failed was designed for a smaller passenger vehicle. The van required light truck tires. Neither the van’s current owner nor the two used car dealers that previously owned the vehicle noticed this defect.