Dangerous and defective products injure thousands of Americans every year. Children and teenagers are especially vulnerable to poorly designed or manufactured products. Every parent’s worst nightmare is finding his or her child seriously and permanently injured due to a manufacturer’s reckless or negligent acts.
Ballinger v. Top Swords LLC
Last November there were news reports about a Kentucky teenager injured in a “freak accident” at his home. These early reports only said that the victim, a high school sophomore, “was injured when a piece of metal entered [his] forehead, causing trauma.” In fact, the trauma was so severe that the victim was in a coma for six weeks.
As it turned out, the “piece of metal” was the detached blade of a katana, or Samurai sword. The sword was sold by a Georgia-based company to the employer of the victim’s aunt. She received the sword as an employee award. In turn, she gave it to her brother, the victim’s father, who collected knives and other weapons.
The victim invited two of his friends to his house to show them the sword. One of the friends was swinging the sword at a plastic bottle when the blade detached from the handle, flew approximately 20 feet in the air, and struck the victim in the head, according to a lawsuit filed by the parents in Atlanta federal court against the company that sold the sword.
The lawsuit alleges a number of defects in the sword’s manufacture and packaging. For example, the parents allege the blade of the sword was secured by “rubber cement” rather than bolts or rivets. And the 27-inch blade only extended about 7 centimeters into the handle. The lawsuit also pointed to the lack of any instruction manual or safety warnings on the sword’s original packaging.
In addition to the seller, the lawsuit also names a number of “John Doe” defendants, basically other parties involved in the manufacture and distribution of the sword whom the plaintiffs have yet to identify. The lawsuit accuses all defendants of negligence, gross negligence, strict liability for the design and manufacture of the sword, failure to warn consumers the sword was not safe or reliable, and breach of warranty. The parents seek $20 million in compensatory damages for their son’s injuries, and an additional $40 million in punitive damages.
The Challenges of Winning a Product Liability Case
Of course, a lawsuit is merely a statement of allegations. This case has yet to be heard or decided. And product liability cases are rarely short, easy affairs. Plaintiffs have to present highly qualified experts who can testify as to the specific defects in a product. Keep in mind, a product defect can occur at any stage of production and for multiple reasons, such as poor design or lack of proper safety precautions at the manufacturing facility. In some cases, including the allegations made in this lawsuit, a manufacturer or retailer can also be held liable for failing to properly warn consumers about the dangers of using a product.
Ballinger v. Top Swords, LLC, et al., U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Case 4:17-cv-00063-HLM