Articles Posted in Product Liability

imgonline-com-ua-twotoone-pBIySkCoGqFPV-300x151Two major recalls of tree trimming devices were issued by the United State Consumer Protection Commission (“USCPC”) on December 9, 2020, affecting over half-a-million devices sold by Fiskars Brands, Inc. and Black and Decker, Inc. under its Craftsman brand. Both products are designed to allow the user to trim tree branches otherwise inaccessible without a ladder or lift.

The first recall involves approximately 467,000 Fiskars 16 foot Extendable Pole Saw/Pruners. The device consists of a telescoping pole that can be adjusted between 7’ and 16’ and a head with a pruner and a hooked wood saw. The pole is improperly designed such that it can separate while the device is being used. The saw blade and pruners can then call down on the user, potentially causes serious injuries. As of the date of the notice, multiple consumers reported lacerations requiring stitches from the device’s failure.

Pruner-300x88Fiskar’s product was available for purchase between December 2016 and September 2020 for $100 (Model No. 9463) or $65 (Model Nos. 9440 and 9441). They devices were widely available at home improvement and hardware stores, as well as online direct from the seller at fiskars.com. Consumers are directed to stop using the product immediately and contact Fiskars Brands. The company will provide instructions on disposal of the defective device and provide a new one free of charge.

Soldier-200x300On July 28, 2020, a Florida federal court ruling breached the central defense against claims certain military earplugs were defective, damaging the ear and causing hearing loss. The lawsuits claim the earplugs were improperly designed, and did not completely block loud noises common to the military, such as gunfire and or the operation of heavy machinery or vehicles. Neumann Law Group has previously written about the earplug litigation, and you can read that article here.

The defendant, 3M, attempted to invoke the ‘government contractor defense,” a doctrine that would relieve it of any liability even if it were proven to have produced and sold a defective product to the military. The Supreme Court articulated the government contractor defense in Boyle v. United Technologies Corporation, 487 US 500 (1988), which involved a wrongful death complaint made against a company that produced military helicopters—the plaintiff alleged the escape system in the helicopter was poorly designed, causing the death of a pilot.

The jury in Boyle found that the manufacturer was in fact negligent when it designed the helicopter, but the Supreme Court would eventually uphold an appellate reversal of the verdict. It outlined the strong federal interest in military equipment and concluded those interests outweighed any state law claims, but only when the federal government gave reasonably precise specifications for the equipment, the equipment conformed to the specifications, and the supplier warned the federal government of the danger involved in using the equipment to the best of its knowledge.

Blood-Sugar-Reader-300x200The FDA announced February 11, 2020, that Medtronic recalled all 322,005 of its MiniMed insulin pumps in the United States. The agency issued a Class I Recall, which is the most serious type of recall reserved for situations where use of a medical device may cause serious injury or death. The recall comes on the heels of the first reported death caused by the device.

Insulin pumps regulate blood sugar in people with Type 1 diabetes. The device delivers small doses of short acting insulin continuously throughout the day, which replaces the traditional method of the patient periodically injecting him or herself with longer acting insulin. In operation, an insulin pump better recreates the function of a healthy pancreas.

The pump holds an insulin reservoir, from which insulin is slowly introduced into the body through a thin plastic tube that is permanently placed into the patient’s abdomen. The rate of flow is adjusted to maintain proper blood sugar levels. Insulin cartridges must be replaced periodically when the reservoir is depleted.

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