5 Unbelievable Product Liability Lawsuits

Each year thousands of product liability claims are filed, which eventually lead to a plethora of settlements and verdicts being awarded to consumers who have been injured indirectly or directly by faulty or sub-standard products. These lawsuits, filed by consumers like you, require companies to maintain safety standards and spend more resources for product testing. Here we present some notable products that correspond with 5 Unbelievable Product Liability Lawsuits. These cases show how product safety and reliability are crucial and also help you understand your rights as a consumer.

1. Blitz gas cans

Blitz was the largest producer of portable gas cans in the United States. Headquartered in Miami, Oklahoma, this company filed for bankruptcy in mid-2012 because of a barrage of product liability lawsuits against it. Many consumers from different parts of the country have filed cases against the company because the cans would explode when used to pour gas to start a fire. Each of these claims cost the company an average of $4 million and more than 30 cases were filed in 2012 alone causing the company to close its operations.

gasoline cans

A product liability lawsuit was brought against Blitz for the unreliability of its gas cans, which would explode when used to pour gasoline on fires.

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2. McDonald’s coffee

The Liebeck v. McDonald’s case of 1994 is one of the most prominent unbelievable product liability cases in U.S. history. In this case, Stella Liebeck accidentally poured hot coffee, purchased from McDonald’s, on her lower body and suffered third degree burns on her thighs, groin and buttocks. Liebeck’s lawyers argued that the company served coffee at a temperature of 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit while other companies served coffee only at a reasonable 140 degrees. Liebeck was awarded a jury verdict of $2.7 million in punitive damages and $160,000 for medical expenses.

In 1994, after accidentally spilling hot coffee on her lower body and suffering third degree burns, Stella Liebeck filed a suit against McDonald's, claiming the fast food restaurant served coffee at too high of a temperature.

In 1994, after accidentally spilling hot coffee on her lower body and suffering third degree burns, Stella Liebeck filed a suit against McDonald’s, claiming the fast food restaurant served coffee at too high of a temperature.

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3. Remington rifle models 700 and 710

The Remington rifle models 700 and 710 were proven to have a faulty fire control system, which caused the rifle to fire even when the trigger wasn’t pulled. All that was needed to fire the rifle was the release of the safety latch, which could easily be released when the rifle was simply bumped or jarred. Many product liability lawsuits have been filed against the Remington Rifle company, but the most prominent jury verdict was $15 million awarded to a Texas man in 1994 when he accidentally shot himself in the right foot while hunting.

remington rifle

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4. Ledraplastic balancing ball

In 2009 Francisco Garcia of the Sacramento Kings was balancing on a 75 centimeter Ledraplastic balancing ball along with weights when the ball burst and he was injured. He fractured his right forearm and was unable to play the first four months in his first-year contract with the Kings. The Kings and Garcia filed a product liability claim against Ledraplastic for $4 million in lost salaries and $29.6 million in damages and eventually won the case.

A Sacramento Kings' basketball player filed a product liability case after sustaining injuries from a balancing ball that exploded during a workout.

A Sacramento Kings’ basketball player filed a product liability case after sustaining injuries from a balancing ball that exploded during a workout.

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5. Toyota cars

In 2010, Toyota issued a massive recall for many of its cars. A safety feature known as “brake to idle fail safe” was not installed in many cars and, therefore, increased the chances of an accident when the accelerator malfunctioned. The aim of the fail-safe system is to prompt the engine to ignore the gas pedal when the brakes are pressed, greatly reducing the chances of an accident, even when there is a problem with the accelerator. The failure to include this fail-safe mechanism in many Toyota models resulted in one of the biggest litigation cases in recent history, as well as a class action lawsuit. Toyota agreed to pay a whopping $1.1 billion to settle the suit.

We would love to know what you think of these 5 Unbelievable Product Liability Lawsuits. Have we missed any notable cases, particularly ones that leave you scratching your head? If there’s one that should have made our list, leave a comment below!

Is your company in need of a liability expert who specializes in building construction and design? Check out Ivey Engineering’s professional liability consulting services.

 

6 replies
  1. jason
    jason says:

    looking at these cases, gives me pause; I am an aspiring inventor and looking at these cases is making me second guess being an inventor. I see it like this, if you have a product and you educate the general public on what the product is for and its capabilities, that is the end of your obligations. If the general public cant use their common sense, well it’s on them at that point.

    Reply
  2. Kathy McGinn Noble
    Kathy McGinn Noble says:

    The Liebeck v. McDonald’s is misleading as reported. Yes, the jury attempted to award Ms. Liebeck 2.7 million dollars (based on two days of coffee sales) as a punitive ruling against McDonald’s because they served the coffee at a temperature they knew to be dangerous. She originally sought to have her medical bills covered, as she was left disabled and disfigured and McDonald’s offered her $800. The temperature was served a temperature ABOVE normal and KNOWN to cause injury if consumed as served. The judge ultimately lowered the award to $650K.

    Reply

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