Articles Posted in Product Liability

Recently, an appeals court issued a decision in a case against Amazon that may upend the way courts evaluate Maine product liability lawsuits involving online retailers. The incident giving rise to the claim began when a woman purchased a defective hoverboard from a third-party seller on Amazon. The product caught on fire, causing the woman to suffer severe burns. The woman filed a lawsuit against several parties, including a strict liability lawsuit against Amazon. In response, Amazon moved for summary judgment, arguing that their case was distinguishable from prior cases holding the eCommerce site liable because they did not ever possess the hoverboard.

Despite the distinction, the court reviewed the case under the principles of prior holdings, such as the Bolger decision. The court reasoned that the online retailer operated on a business model that places itself in between the seller and consumer. Amazon contended that Bolger should not apply because it was not decided correctly and does not comport with the modern economy. However, the court found that the holding can reasonably extend to modern product liability concerns.

In the alternative, the court found that Amazon may be liable under the “stream of commerce” model. This approach applies in situations when the product liability defendant is not in the direct chain of distribution. It imposes liability based on the financial benefit the defendant obtains from the transaction, their role in providing the product to the public, and their influence on manufacturing the product. The court opined that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding whether those factors apply in this case.

When it comes to our health, we all deserve to trust the products that we use to maintain or improve our well-being. Because some of these products often touch on the most intimate parts of our lives, it is crucial that consumers can safely rely on manufacturers to produce and market safe products for our use. When health-related products such as medical devices end up hurting us rather than helping us, however, the manufacturers of those products must be held accountable.

According to a report from a consumer advocacy organization, IUD-related product liability lawsuits have been taking place with greater frequency in recent years. The Paragard IUD, which has been circulating the market since its initial approval in 1984, is a copper birth control device that prevents pregnancy. The device has been marketed as convenient for patients on the go, easy to insert, and easy to remove.

In recent years, however, dozens of lawsuits have emerged as a result of the device. Products liability suits alleging issues with the IUD’s manufacturing, labeling, marketing, and development have arisen, especially as manufacturers have continued to sell the device despite knowing that it could break during removal. Many patients who have had the IUD break during removal have filed claims alleging that pieces are missing or lodged in their organs or that breakage has resulted in allergic reactions, infection, loss of fertility, pain, and even surgery to remove broken pieces.

In the United States, the 14th Amendment of the Constitution’s Due Process Clause limits a state court’s ability to exercise jurisdiction over a defendant. Whether a particular state, such as Maine, has the authority to have jurisdiction over a defendant to hear a case involving them depends on whether the defendant has established sufficient “contacts” with the state where the suit takes place.

Whether the state is equipped to hear the case frequently also turns on whether hearing the claim would be “reasonable” and whether it would interfere with “fair play and substantial justice.” Thus, jurisdiction is a frequently debated issue in courts when defendants claim that plaintiffs have no grounds to bring claims against them in particular states because the defendants do not have enough of a presence in the state in question and thus cannot be subject to the court’s power.

In a recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion, the court considered a product liability suit that focused on jurisdiction issues. Two separate cases, one filed in Montana, and the other in Minnesota, alleged that defective Ford vehicles resulted in the death and injury of these two plaintiffs. Ford moved to dismiss the suit for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Most parents and caregivers have come across the headlines regarding the concerning amounts of heavy metals in toddler juices and infant cereals, pouches, and puffs. Unlike typical Maine food poisoning lawsuits, claims surrounding tainted infant foods may pose more challenges. Families who believe that their child suffered injuries from consuming tainted infant food should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

According to a recent New York Times article, the alarming reports from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform follow a review of internal documents from seven of the largest baby food manufacturers in the country. The request came after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO) found that heavy metals present in baby foods are dangerous to infants and childrens’ cognitive development. Although many of the companies complied with the request, several declined to participate. The companies’ refusal presents further concerns that these manufacturers may be concealing dangers.

It is important that parents understand that heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury occur naturally in soil and through agricultural practices and manufacturing. However, many of the baby foods included in the study contained unsafe levels. Those who suffer heavy metal poisoning may experience diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, breathing issues, chills, and weaknesses in some situations.

The holiday season, and especially gift-giving, is often a favorite for many individuals. It is especially exciting to see children unwrap new toys that they will play with for months to come. However, when these toys are defective—and parents do not know it when they give them to their children—the children may be hurt by the toy. When a child is injured because the product is defective, they can bring a Maine product liability claim, alleging the defective product caused their injury. Product liability refers to a manufacturer or seller being held liable for placing a dangerous product into a consumer’s hands.

While toys are often seen as fun and enjoyable, there can be major consequences if they are unsafe. In 2018, there were an estimated 226,100 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospitals; 73% of these injuries happened to children 15 years old or younger. Tragically, there were also 17 toy-related deaths that occurred to children that same year. These deaths resulted from non-motorized scooters and riding toys, rubber balls, stuffed toys, and plastic toy food.

Toys—along with other consumer products—are often recalled because they can be dangerous to use. However, when someone is injured because they used the product, the individual, or their loved one if they passed away, may pursue a product liability claim. According to Maine law, a person who sells any products in a defective condition that is unreasonably dangerous to the user or his property is subject to liability for the physical harm caused. There are other requirements to products liability a plaintiff must prove: (1) the injury occurred to a person whom the manufacturer, seller, or supplier might reasonably expect to use, consume, or be affected by the product or to his property; (2) the product is expected to and does reach the user without significant change in condition in which it is sold.

No matter where you live, you probably have a ceiling fan in at least one room of your home. Given how common ceiling fans are in all kinds of residences, from houses to apartments to studios, you probably do not give them a second glance when entering a room. In the event that a ceiling fan is defective, however, and hurts someone or damages property while spinning because of the manufacturer or a design flaw, you may be able to recover damages in a Maine product liability lawsuit.

According to a recent news article, more than 190,000 ceiling fans have been recalled after the blades detached. Flying blades, the Consumer Product Safety Commission claimed, could cause injury and damage property for unsuspecting consumers. Of the 80,000 sold to consumers in the U.S. and Canada, there have been 47 reports of blades detaching from the fans, with two of them involving blades hitting people and four involving property damage. The Consumer Safety Commission has recommended that all consumers immediately stop using the fans, especially if they notice unusual blade movement or uneven gaps that appear between the body of the fan and the blades. Further, consumers can contact the distributor of the fans for a replacement free of charge.

If you are a Maine consumer who was injured by a ceiling fan, you may have a product liability claim. When you purchase any product, there are promises, otherwise known as implied warranties, made between the manufacturer of the product and the seller. Consumers receiving a product that is fit for the purpose for which it was sold and not defective, for example, is one of those warranties. Thus, when someone is injured because the product fails to deliver on those warranties, then both the seller and the manufacturer could be responsible for any injuries that occur to the consumer.

Given Maine’s reputation as a beautiful place to live and vacation, the state experiences a significant amount of car and truck travel every year. However, all this traffic creates busy highways filled with cars and large commercial vehicles, increasing the chances of a serious Maine truck accident. Although some accidents are unavoidable, many trucking accidents are preventable. A significant number of these accidents result from a driver’s negligence or a defective car or truck component.

Trucks with defective parts, as well as those with inherently dangerous features, kill and injure thousands of people every year. A seemingly small defect can change the mechanical workings of these intricate vehicles. Even one defective part in a commercial truck can result in a total system failure, causing the truck to become a serious hazard. This is why federal and state lawmakers require commercial truck drivers to obtain special education, training, and licensing to operate them. Even simple tasks such as shifting and braking require several systems to work together. If even one of these systems contains a defect, the risk of a system failure or accident significantly increases.

The most common defects involve brakes, hydraulics, engines, steering systems, hitches, tires, and restraints. For example, recently, a state court issued an opinion in an accident lawsuit stemming from a truck’s un-commanded activation of a dump gate.

Product liability claims generally arise when an individual suffers injuries as a result of a defective or unreasonably dangerous product. Under Maine product liability law, any person who is a “reasonably expected” user of the defective product may have standing to file a lawsuit, regardless of whether they purchased the product. Further, although many products have limitations on warranties, state law provides that manufacturers and sellers cannot limit the implied warranties on consumer products. It is important to note that the law distinguishes between consumers and commercial purchasers. Despite the broad rights and remedies that consumers have, Maine product liability lawsuits often entail many challenges.

Maine product liability claims are often complicated, especially when the defective product was bought through Amazon, or a similar online retailer. Historically, Amazon maintained protection for defective products purchased through their site. However, the tide has begun to turn, and courts have found that Amazon cannot always shield itself from liability for defective products. This policy shift has occurred mainly after a series of situations where consumers suffered injuries from defective products sold by third-parties. However, lawmakers are now focusing on Amazon’s liability for its own defective merchandise.

A recent news report indicates that senators across the United States are demanding that Amazon recall hazardous Amazon-brand products. Many of these products are marketed under “AmazonBasics.” Safety experts discovered that many defective products remained available for sale, despite reports that they presented fire hazards. Senators wrote to Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, indicating that Amazon’s refusal to remove defective products may pose a serious threat to consumers.

Salmonella is a common bacterium associated with many food-related illnesses in the United States. There are many challenges with containing the bacteria because it cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. Despite the benign presentation of food products containing salmonella, the consequences of ingesting it are often severe. The bacteria often result in salmonellosis, an illness marked by severe gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. Individuals who suffered illness related to contaminated foods should contact a Maine product liability attorney to discuss options for recovering for their losses.

Although salmonella infections occur infrequently, the contamination can cause serious illnesses leading to hospitalization and even death. Salmonella poisoning is particularly dangerous for medically vulnerable individuals. These populations include pregnant individuals, infants, older adults, and those undergoing treatment for cancer and other serious conditions. Many infections stem from foods processed with contaminated meat and nut butter, raw eggs, dairy products, raw or undercooked meat, and raw fruits and vegetables. Salmonella poisoning occurs more often in the warmer temperatures, as the bacteria grow faster with heat. Further, many people consume a more substantial amount of raw fruits, vegetables and undercooked meats during the warmer months.

For instance, according to a recent news report, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently advised consumers to discard peaches that they believe carry salmonella. After nearly 70 people suffered illnesses related to salmonella contamination, the FDA discovered that the common denominator was peaches packed by a specific company. The packing company explained that the majority of their peaches were sold to one grocery chain, Aldis, but they were distributed to others across 16 states. FDA officials explained that determining the cause of contamination is challenging because contamination can occur at any step of distribution, including picking, transporting, packing, handling, and unloading.

COVID-19 continues to cause medical, financial, and psychological stress on people throughout the United States. In addition to the general fear surrounding the virus, many people, including those residing in Maine nursing homes, face the pandemic’s continued threat. These vulnerable individuals are at risk for serious medical consequences if they contract the coronavirus. Although most nursing homes and assisted living facilities understand the heightened need for health and safety measures, these facilities continue to see a rise in cases and deaths.

Maine nursing homes whose staff do not possess the training, skills, and access to personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely care for the facility’s residents, can cause a widespread outbreak. Inadequate and defective equipment can have disastrous effects on staff, residents, and visitors. Although, the government provides a broad range of immunity to these facilities for lawsuits related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maine nursing home neglect and abuse victims must understand their rights and remedies.

For example, a national news source recently reported a troubling situation where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent inadequate PPE to nursing homes facing the COVID-19 pandemic. These facilities were benefactors of a widespread effort to provide medical professionals with PPE. However, several nursing homes and assisted living facilities reported that the shipments they received included questionable products. The facilities complained that the boxes included unmarked zip-top bags with loose gloves, defective surgical masks, and protective gowns without arm openings. FEMA claimed that although the equipment met regulatory guidelines, they would be contacting the private contractor to issue replacements.

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