Articles Posted in Product Liability

Many people have undergone hip, knee, and ankle replacement surgery using Exactech joint replacement products. In August 2021, Exactech announced the recall of many of its knee, ankle, and hip replacement parts. It was discovered that, for certain products sold since 2004, the packaging of various parts allowed exposure to oxygen, which could cause oxidation. Over time, the oxidation could lead to the breakdown of the implant material within the patient’s body, causing failure of the device and other complications. Additionally, Exactech recalled their Connexion GXL acetabular polyethylene liners, which are a key component in several hip replacement products. These liners could also break down prematurely. 

Because of the many lawsuits associated with the defective products, the suits were consolidated into a nationwide multi-district lawsuit (MDL), centralized in the Eastern District of New York State. In addition, since Exactech is a Florida company, an additional, state-wide MDL has been created, which could go to trial earlier than the national MDL. 

Do you have an Exactech product that has been recalled?

The news is full of examples of major companies being sued for damage caused by their products. As a Florida personal injury lawyer, I help individuals fight against big corporations and their teams of lawyers in order to guarantee that those hurt by the negligence of others receive the compensation they deserve.

What is an MDL case?

A multidistrict lawsuit (MDL) refers to a mass tort, or a circumstance in which many people are suing a manufacturer over the same product. To simplify the process and keep the court system from being overwhelmed, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) may determine that a certain type of case should be handled as an MDL, in which a single judge is appointed to oversee the discovery, pre-trial motions, and settlement conferences since the processes would be similar in all cases. 

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.

Products sold to consumers are supposed to be safe. There are many safety standards that need to be met, but often, either they are not met or the standards are not sufficient. Many defective products are recalled each year, and many others are never recalled, but still cause harm. 

Some defective products can cause burn and fire hazards, such as space heaters, electric blankets, lithium batteries, vaping equipment, and sprays such as PAM. 

Defective gym and sports equipment can cause serious physical injury due to the collapse or tipping of an exercise machine, failure of a pulley or weight locks, or poor safety equipment such as helmets, pads, and masks.

There have been a growing number of lawsuits around the country against makers of infant formula based on bovine milk (cow’s milk), in particular Mead Johnson, the makers of Enfamil. Bovine-based formulas have been shown to significantly increase the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a potentially deadly condition. Conversely, infant formulas based on human milk show a significant reduction in the risk of NEC. 

What is NEC? What babies are susceptible?

NEC is a bacterial infection of the intestine that can cause symptoms ranging from mild to severe, and tragically, sometimes deadly. These symptoms can include diarrhea or constipation, vomiting, distended stomach, difficulty eating or gaining weight, sleep apnea, lethargy, and shock.

The term “mass tort” defines a specific type of civil lawsuit in which a “tort,” a wrongful act that causes injury, has affected masses of people. Class action lawsuits also involve many people; however, mass tort differs from a class-action lawsuit in a number of specific ways. In our Fort Lauderdale office, we can help you understand what it means to participate in a mass tort lawsuit given your injury.  

Difference between Class Action and Mass Tort lawsuits

A class-action lawsuit involves a large number of individuals who have experienced similar harm from a product or event and for whom fair compensation is not large enough to justify separate cases. A class-action lawsuit is a single suit with many plaintiffs who will share in the distribution of any settlement or awards. One law firm represents all injured parties and argues for them as one entity. For instance, in 2017, Visa and Mastercard settled a lawsuit for overcharging fees to retailers. They settled for $7.5 billion, with each retailer receiving a small portion of the settlement due to the sheer number of plaintiffs. Many other class-action lawsuits have been filed for defective products and wrongful acts due to corporate negligence. 

Alec Baldwin’s accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of a Western movie he was filming highlights the dangers of mishandling a gun and the problem with defects in deadly weapons. Accidental injury and death from firearms are sadly fairly common and can be attributed to human error, product defect, or both.

 Product defect

A number of guns have histories of malfunction. For instance, the Sig Sauer P320 handgun can accidentally discharge when bumped or dropped or when an object touches it in a certain way. They have even gone off when holstered. A Philadelphia SEPTA police officer’s holstered gun went off on a crowded train, narrowly missing injuring riders. Several soldiers have had their holstered firearms go off, injuring them in their legs. The P320 is also known to fire if it is dropped and lands at a certain angle. Numerous other lawsuits of this type have been filed against Sig Sauer. 

Product recalls occur when a manufacturer, government entity, or consumer watchdog group discovers a defect or potential defect in a product or food, leading to a request that consumers return the product (or sometimes, in the case of food, discard it). Depending on the item being recalled, consumers may receive a refund, replacement, or repair. The Consumer Public Safety Commission (CPSC) is one of the regulatory bodies that oversee product safety, but it is not the only one. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also regulate safety standards for food and pharmaceutical products. 

Automobile and auto parts recalls

One of the biggest recalls in recent years was the 2019-2020 recall of Takata airbags, which were discovered to be at risk of explosion when exposed to high heat and humidity. This is a very scary and dangerous malfunction! 

Here in Florida, the Sunshine State, people use a lot of sunscreen. We are told that it protects us from the harmful rays of the sun, but recent research suggests that the sunscreen itself might be harming us. This summer the FDA has announced that it will be closely studying the negative effects of sunscreen. In early 2021, an independent pharmaceutical testing lab, Valisure, tested 294 batches of sunscreen and other sun products and found that 78 of the batches contained benzene. The FDA is now investigating the presence of additional carcinogens.  

What is benzene?

Benzene is a known carcinogen that causes cells to malfunction in ways that can cause immunity issues, and long-term exposure to it has been linked to leukemia. It is produced naturally in crude oil and gasoline, forest fires and volcanic eruptions, and cigarette smoke. It is also used extensively in the manufacturing of plastics and synthetics and is found in lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides. Research into benzene several decades ago led the federal government in 1987 to limit benzene exposure in the workplace, adopting standards 50 times lower than previous standards. But some medical experts believe the exposure limits are still too high.

As with any other personal injury lawsuit here in Florida, when you are injured in your own home or on your own property, you must be able to demonstrate negligence on the part of a third party to receive compensation. For instance, if you slip and fall in your own kitchen because of your wet tile floor that has been properly installed, you cannot file a claim against your homeowner’s insurance or the installer of the floor for compensation because you are the negligent party. However, that does not mean that all injuries on your property are your fault. 

Product Injuries

Product injuries happen every day in the United States, and sometimes those injuries are serious. Power tools, lawnmowers, baby cribs, electronic devices, large appliances, and kitchen equipment are common items that cause injuries. Other injuries may be caused by defective chemical products, such as cleaning agents or hygiene items. 

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