Articles Posted in Products Liability

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Cases involving injuries due to asbestos inhalation have been in the news a lot lately, as individuals exposed to the material over a long period of time have begun to show symptoms. In one such case, the plaintiff alleged that his father was exposed to asbestos from the defendants’ products during the time when he repaired brakes and clutches for his employer. The plaintiff also alleged that he was secondarily exposed to asbestos when he visited the father at work, doing things such as sweeping piles of dust from the repairs, and also when the father would return home with dust on his clothing, which was washed with the family clothing.

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The plaintiff was secondarily (para-occupationally) exposed to the same asbestos when he visited the father at work and when the father inadvertently carried asbestos to the family home or vehicle after work. As a result of this asbestos exposure, the plaintiff suffered from or had an increased risk of contracting serious injuries, including mesothelioma. He brought causes of action for negligence, breach of implied warranty, strict products liability based on design and manufacturing defects, fraud and failure to warn, and conspiracy to defraud and failure to warn. The defendants filed separate motions for summary judgment, each arguing that the plaintiff did not have and could not obtain evidence to prove his claims.

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A California Appeals Court ruled earlier this year in a case that touched upon the various legal claims that can be involved in personal injury cases.

The plaintiff was a member of the fitness chain 24 Hour Fitness. On one occasion while exercising, he used a “hack squat” machine. The health club had two of the machines, one that had a safety catch and one that did not. On the day of the incident, the plaintiff was using the machine, and his legs became tired, so he was unable to return the weight to the required height. Since the machine he was using did not have a catch, the weights descended too low for comfort, causing the plaintiff to suffer an injury.

The plaintiff filed suit against the maker of the machine, the health club, and other affiliated entities, alleging products liability claims based upon negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty in addition to claims for premises liability and negligence.

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Sandblasting1-199x300Last month, a California Appeals Court issued an updated opinion on the Component Parts Doctrine, a lesser discussed area of products liability law.

Procedural History

In the case, Uriarte v. Scott Sales Co., Cal. Ct. App. (2nd App. Dist., 1st Div. 2017), the plaintiff sued Scott Sales Co. and J.R. Simplot Company, and other defendants. The plaintiff alleged that the silica sand procured from the defendants by his employer was used as a sandblasting material, which resulted in the production of airborne toxins that caused him to develop interstitial pulmonary fibrosis and other illnesses.

The defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings on the basis of the component parts doctrine. The component parts doctrine states that, “the manufacturer of a component part is not liable for injuries caused by the finished product into which the component has been incorporated unless the component itself was defective and caused harm.”

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iStock_000003278937XSmall-300x199Yahoo! Autos reports that General Motors is recalling over 3 million vehicles due to a variety of safety concerns, including faulty ignition systems and airbags. If you were injured by an unsafe vehicle, Escondido defective product attorney Zev Rubinstein can fight for your right to compensation.

When an auto manufacturer fails to warn consumers and take necessary steps to mitigate the danger of a defective vehicle, the company opens itself to potential liability. However, the manufacturer isn’t always the sole party that is potentially liable in defective product cases.

Flaws can be introduced at multiple points in a vehicle’s chain of distribution, including the design and transit stages. You might be able to recover damages from these parties as well if they contributed to the hazardous defect.

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A new study published this month in the medical journal BMJ found that a newborn’s risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPH) increases if the mother uses antidepressants during the final trimester of her pregnancy. If a prescription drug negatively impacted your health or your child’s health, Vista attorney Zev Rubinstein can pursue a product liability case on your behalf.

PPH occurs when blood flow in the lungs is interrupted due to the failure of the newborn’s circulatory system to begin functioning independently outside of the womb. This condition can lead to symptoms ranging from breathing problems to dangerously low oxygen levels in the blood.

Unfortunately, PPH isn’t the only serious birth defect that research has linked to the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat depression during pregnancy. Prenatal SSRI exposure has been found to increase risk of the following in newborns:

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JG_Crash321561xx001_1_t620.jpgSan Diego Union Tribune’s Debbie Baker and Susan Shroder reported that several members of a family were injured, one fatally in a car accident on April 25, 2012. The tragic auto accident happened at around 6:30 a.m. on Interstate 805 in Sorrento Valley as the Thomas family was on their way to Disneyland. According to CHP Officer Art Athans, an unnamed woman driving a Nissan Altima stated that the driver of a Honda sedan cut her off and as she swerved to avoid it, she hit the Thomas’ Toyota Rav4 causing it to roll several times and come to rest hanging 30 feet above a Caltrans work site.

The Rav4 driver, 43-year-old Brian Thomas sustained multiple cuts, bruises and broken ribs. His wife Rebecca, 42, who was sitting in the front seat, was also injured. Their 22-year-old daughter Daniesha and 8-year-old son, who were in the back seat, received multiple injuries including cuts and bruises. However, their 66-year-old grandmother suffered a major traumatic brain injury. The family was rescued by construction workers and taken to a local hospital, where the grandmother later died from her injuries.

Our sympathy goes out to the Thomas family for their loss.

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drunkdriving_2.jpgSan Diego News 6 Mike Wille reported that 21-year-old Ashley Maya was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence and causing a fatal auto accident on February 12, 2012. According to the CHP, Maya was drunk and driving at a high rate of speed. As she attempted to merge from Highway 163 to Interstate 8, she overturned her vehicle, ejecting two of the three passengers, one of whom died at the scene. The two other passengers were injured and transported to a local hospital. Police arrested her on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Our sympathy goes out to the family and friends of the deceased.

Applicable California Law

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imagesCAN49RDKSan Diego News 10 reported that 18-year-old Miguel Rojas of Escondido was fatally injured in a hit-and-run accident on July 3, 2011. The auto accident occurred at around 2 a.m. when Miguel was leaving his aunt’s house Sunday morning. As he turned left onto Washington Avenue his Dodge Caravan was hit by a 1995 Lexus traveling east on Washington, and burst into flames causing his tragic death. The driver of the Lexus 20-year-old Juan Carrillo, also of Escondido, fled the scene but was later arrested and charged with felony hit-and-run and driving without a license according to Escondido police officer Scott Walters. An unnamed passenger in the Lexus was also injured and taken to a local hospital.

Our condolences go out to Miguel’s son, other family members and friends.

Applicable California law

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Bicycle-Accident-LawyerSan Diego Union Tribune, Debbie Baker reported that an unnamed 46-year-old man riding a bicycle sustained a life-threatening head injury on April 25, 2011. The bicycle accident happened around 5 p.m. in North Park when the bicyclist, who was riding east on University Avenue near Arizona Street, was knocked to the ground. According to police, as he rode passed a parked vehicle the 22-year-old woman driver opened the car door striking the bicyclist, who suffered a life-threatening skull fracture when he fell and hit his head on the ground. Traffic division officers are still investigating the matter.

Applicable California law

The bicyclist will have claims for any damage to his personal property as well as his personal injuries due to the driver’s inattention when opening her car door. These damages include medical bills, lost earnings and earning capacity in addition to compensation for pain and suffering. However, it is not clear if the bicyclist was wearing a helmet since he sustained a skull fracture. Furthermore, he has the same obligations as other vehicles on the road to exercise due care. If he failed to do so and this contributed to the causing his own injuries, his claims would be reduced proportionately (see my prior Blog post on California Bike Law). Head injuries such as skull fractures can cause permanent consequences (see my prior Blog post on Brain Injuries and resources), which leads to the question as to whether the driver has adequate insurance coverage (see my prior Blog post on California Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Law). If the cyclist was wearing a helmet and it was defective, which contributed to his injuries, he could potentially pursue a products liability claim (see my prior Blog post on California Products Liability Law).

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UNION TRIBUNE reporter Pauline Repard reports that two woman 19-year-old Elizabeth Belete and 21-year-old Cassandra Robinson were killed and another critically injured in an auto accident on October 9, 2010 at around 7 p.m. in the City Heights area. The accident happened on state Route 15, on the southbound transition lanes to I-805, resulting in both vehicles flying off the freeway. CHP officers said two woman were ejected from one vehicle, and were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. Three people in the other vehicle were trapped for some time. One of them was seriously injured, but the two others were reported to have left the scene before police arrived. CHP officers said “We are treating this like a crime scene.”

Applicable California Law

The two people who left the scene could face criminal charges for felony hit and run (see my prior Blog post for the law on hit and run). Because the incident is still under investigation, it is not clear who is at fault. However, regardless of who caused the accident, they will be liable for the wrongful death of the people who died at the scene (see my prior Blog post for the law on wrongful death). In addition, they would be responsible for the personal injury and property damage sustained by the others involved in the accident. The heirs of the deceased could also have potential products liability claims against the manufacturer and distributer of the vehicle occupied by the ones ejected (see my prior Blog post on the law on products liability).