PRODUCT LIABILITY: VEHICLE DEFECTS
The attorneys at Butler Tobin were a major part of the trial team that won a $150 million verdict for a dangerously designed Jeep Grand Cherokee. The automaker had put the gas tank in a vulnerable place, such that after a collision that the vehicle’s occupants would have survived, the gas tank exploded—killing one of the passengers. It took three years of litigation, thousands of miles in travel, almost fifty depositions, nearly a million pages of documents, and a two week trial, but we proved to a jury that the automaker, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, had put profits over safety.
The rule in automotive safety is simple: if the crash doesn’t hurt you, your car shouldn’t either. Our attorneys have handled cases involving a range of automotive defects, including fuel systems, airbags, rollover safety, roof crush, brake-shift interlocks, seat belts, and other problems that put consumers at risk. Our attorneys have gone to trial against multiple manufactures of defective vehicles—and won. We have written articles in legal journals teaching other lawyers how to handle automotive product liability cases.
If a defective vehicle caused or contributed to injuries to you or a loved one, contact Butler Tobin. We know what to do.
PRODUCT LIABILITY: DEFECTIVE MACHINES AND CONSUMER PRODUCTS
Product failures do not always involve automobiles—sometimes, the defective product is a a piece of workplace machinery, a heating pad, a saw, or some other item. When these products fail, they can cause serious injuries or death, and the victims may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills, time missed from work, pain and suffering, and other things.
When a person is injured in the workplace, most people think of workers’ compensation—and while that is a good thought, the story doesn’t end there. If the injury was caused by a defective machine or the failure of an industrial product, the manufacturer of that product may be responsible. For instance, if a defective machine swung into someone, or a dangerous saw cut someone’s hand because the guard did not work correctly, the manufacturer of that defective machine or saw may be held responsible in a product liability lawsuit. That’s important, because worker’s compensation may refuse to compensate the injured person or may not provide enough compensation to cover the injured person’s losses.
Consumer products can also fail, resulting in manufacturer responsibility under Georgia product liability law. Our firm has seen heating pads that ruptured and burned an infant, a tractor that cranked when it should not have and ran over someone, and a workplace conveyor belt that injured a worker’s hand. All of these are potential product liability cases.
PRODUCT LIABILITY: TIRE BLOWOUTS, SEPARATIONS, AND FAILURES
When you’re driving down the interstate, the last thing you expect is for your tire to come apart. But if a tire manufacturer doesn’t do its job correctly, that is exactly what can happen. Often, tire failures—whether they’re tread separations, belt separations, tire blowouts, or sidewall failures—have tragic consequences.
Our attorneys have handled and won these cases. One defective tire case involved a tire failure on Christmas Day while the driver and his wife were on the way to visit family. The disintegrating tire caused the vehicle to roll over, tragically leaving the driver a quadriplegic with severe brain damage. After years of hard work and trial preparation, the judge entered an Order determining that, as a matter of law, the tire that failed was defective and unreasonably dangerous. The case settled shortly after that, about a month before the trial date, on terms very favorable for the victim and his family.
When a blowout or separation occurs, we know what to do next. We look for problems in the stock preparation, tire building, tire curing, tire aging, and tire distribution process. We look for belt alignment, trapped air, negligent splicing, and a cap ply. We look at conditions in the plant where the tire was assembled, and we find witnesses who can tell the jury the truth about that company’s manufacturing process. And we take the manufacturer to court. Our attorneys have written articles for other lawyers about how to handle tire cases.
The truth is not complicated: a tire should not come apart when you’re driving down the road. If it does, we know what to do about it.
PRODUCT LIABILITY: DANGEROUS DRUGS AND DEVICES INCLUDING IVC FILTERS, XARELTO, INVOKANA
Major drug companies like Pfizer, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson are supposed to make drugs that help sick people. That’s what they tell consumers in their advertisements and marketing materials. Sometimes, however, big pharmaceutical companies sell drugs that are not safe. And sometimes big pharmaceutical companies sell medical products that they know are not safe. If that happens to you or a loved one, you may have a legal claim. We can help.
Some medical devices or drugs that are supposed to help patients can instead be shockingly harmful. For instance, IVC filters (i.e., inferior vena cava filters) are supposed to keep people safe from blood clots—but instead, the IVC filters can come apart in a patient’s body, sending metallic pieces coursing through the bloodstream. Xarelto, a drug marketed by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson to people with heart problems, can cause severe bleeding that can disable or kill the patients to whom Xarelto has been prescribed. Invokana, a drug that Janssen Parmaceuticals sold to diabetes patients, has been revealed to increase the risks of heart attacks in the very people that Invokana was supposed to help.
Big pharmaceutical companies may be large, but they can be hauled into court like any other irresponsible company. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a dangerous device or drug like an IVC filter, Xarelto, or Invokana, contact Butler Tobin.
GEORGIA PRODUCT LIABILITY LAW
Like most states, Georgia holds product manufacturers to a standard of “strict liability.” That means that if the manufacturer sells a defective product, and that product hurts someone, the manufacturer can be held accountable for the damage. Banks v. ICI Americas, Inc., 264 Ga. 732, 734-37 (1994). Examples of defective products include tires that come apart, vehicles that fail to protect occupants in a collision, dangerous workplace machines, unsafe consumer products, or drugs or medical devices that harm patients.
Most manufacturers and medical device companies live up to that duty. After all, the privilege of making money by selling products comes with the responsibility of ensuring that those products don’t put people in danger. Most manufacturers analyze the crashworthiness of their cars, produce tires that don’t have defects, and make medical devices that are safe.
But some don’t. Unfortunately, some manufacturers put profits over safety—instead of making products that are safe, they make products that are cheap to produce, then sell those products to consumers without telling them about the dangers. The companies make more money, but put their customers at risk.
When a company puts profits over safety, that company can be held responsible. If the product is less than ten years old, the manufacturer is liable for the defective product. O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11(b)(1); Banks v. ICI Americas, Inc., 264 GA. 732, .733 (1994). If the product is older than ten years, then the manufacturer is liable if it has shown a “willful, reckless, or wanton disregard for life or property.” O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11(c). In either case, as in most states, the manufacturer is liable if it should have issued a warning about the danger, but failed to do so. Id.; Ford Motor Co. v. Gibson, 283 Ga. 398, 403 (2008). This latter type of claim is often called “failure to warn.”
Sometimes, manufacturers are forced to recall dangerous products. At Butler Tobin, we have handled product liability cases involving recalls. If the recall came too late for you, or if the manufacturer failed to recall a product that it should have recalled, let us know.
If you or someone you care about has been hurt by an unsafe or defective product, you may have a case. The attorneys at Butler Tobin know how to hold manufacturers accountable when they break the rules. Product manufacturers are some of the biggest, most powerful corporations in the world, but the attorneys at Butler Tobin have fought against them—and won.
The Fiery and Predictable Consequences of Rear-Mounted Fuel Tanks
Tire Tips: 10 Ways to Avoid Blowing Your Tire Case
Jeep SUVs and Commonsense Design
Court Order Determining that Tire Was Defective and Unreasonably Dangerous
The jury that heard this closing argument imposed a verdict of $150 million in this case about a dangerous gas tank that could explode in rearend collisions. Here, we rebut the manufacturer’s so-called “severe collision” defense by pointing out that when the tank fails at high speed, and the tank fails at low speed, the problem isn’t the speed—the problem is the tank.
Here, we cross-examined the “expert” that the manufacturer hired to testify at trial. We asked him about the many other wrecks in which Jeeps with rear tanks got hit in the rear. Unsurprisingly, many of those Jeeps leaked gasoline and burned. In this clip, Chrysler’s own”expert” admits that even in minor, low-speed collisions, the rear tanks of these Jeeps were failing and leaking gasoline.