Essure birth control implants and 3M Earplugs are two recent high-profile product liability cases in which tens of thousands of users who were injured sued for damages. In both these cases, the sheer volume of lawsuits would swamp the courts if taken individually, thus they are class-action lawsuits.
Essure’s manufacturer, Bayer Healthcare, received nearly 40,000 lawsuits for its permanent birth control device by 2019 when it was pulled from the market. Bayer has recently settled a portion of these lawsuits with a $1.6 billion settlement.
3M Company has received nearly 250,000 claims against its Combat Arms earplugs, which were standard issue to our servicemen and women between 2004 and 2015 but were ineffective as ear protection. New claims are constantly being filed, which have been consolidated into a multi-district lawsuit (MDL) before a U.S. District Judge in Florida in preparation for trial next year.
These high-profile cases are examples of how defective products can cause significant injury and how manufacturers should be held responsible.
Suing for damages
In most cases, if you have been injured by a defective product, you can sue for damages. It is necessary to fulfill several criteria, however. Florida law requires that the plaintiff in a personal injury case prove:
- The person or business who caused your injury owed you a duty of care
- The person or business was negligent in that duty
- You suffered injury or damage that was caused by the breach of duty
- The injury or damage can be demonstrated legally
With regard to product liability, duty of care means that the parties involved in providing you with this product had a duty to ensure that it was safe and would be used in a safe manner. Negligence means that one or more parties failed in that responsibility.
But negligence in duty is not enough for a lawsuit, because there needs to be damages to sue for. If a lawnmower is defective in some way, but you never use the lawnmower, you have not experienced any damages.
Usually, we think of physical injury in a product injury lawsuit, but emotional injury and even financial injury may be sufficient cause for damages. But you must be able to demonstrate the injury legally.
For instance, if defective brakes caused your parked car to suddenly roll down your sloped driveway and smash into your house, causing thousands of dollars in damages, you could sue for financial injury, since you will be able to document the cost of damages to your home and car. If you were in the car at the time and were not physically injured but suffered PTSD, you could also sue for emotional trauma if you have a medical diagnosis from a psychiatrist or other medical expert competent to make that diagnosis.
What are manufacturers required to do?
A manufacturer is responsible for creating a safe product and providing adequate instructions and appropriate warnings to ensure the product’s safe operation. Failure to do so can result in damages and possibly a lawsuit. There are a few different types of claims a manufacturer might face:
- Manufacturing defect – the product’s manufacturing process or the materials used were defective or of inferior quality, rendering the product potentially dangerous
- Design defect – the product’s design is flawed, which could have been solved by an alternative design
- Failure to warn – the manufacturer failed to provide sufficient use instructions or sufficient warnings regarding potential hazards and properly label the product
Whom can you sue?
Manufacturers aren’t the only ones who can be sued. Depending on the type of defect and the manufacturing process, you may be able to sue the company that provided inferior materials, the company that assembled the product or that performed testing on the product, the writers of the instructions and labels if other than the manufacturer, and possibly even the distributor or seller.
If you were injured on the job by manufacturing equipment and the equipment was not fitted with appropriate safety guards, you may be able to sue your employer.
In order to determine what parties can be sued in a case, I talk to my clients and do extensive research on the manufacturing process of the particular defective product, looking into every possible phase of the manufacturing and distributing process to uncover powerful evidence to strengthen your case.
If you are a Florida resident and have been injured by Essure, 3M, or any product, contact me right away so that I can begin collecting evidence to create a strong case and get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call me 24/7 at (954) 448-7288 from anywhere in Florida.