Articles Posted in Product Liability

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In this particular case being heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in New York County, the plaintiffs are seeking to recover for personal injuries as a result of smoking tobacco. The defendants in the case have moved for summary judgment to dismiss the fraud, failure to warn, and design defect claims being made against them.

Case Background

The plaintiffs in this case are seeking to recover for personal injuries including permanent neurological damage and lung cancer allegedly sustained by the plaintiff as a result of use of cigarettes that are manufactured and sold by the defendants. The plaintiff alleges that she started smoking when she was a teenager during the 1940s. By the time she turned 20 she was smoking a pack a day.

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In February of 2005, a man named Raqul acquired a consumer debt with AT&T. AT&T started a lien against him to recover the money that he owed to them. The address used on the lien was the address of a different person. That person was name Rachel. Their last names were also similar. The error was not caught until Rachel was informed that her college school loans were being cancelled. When she tried to find out why they were being cancelled, she was informed that she was involved in a debt procedure with AT&T. She contacted AT&T and started the process to clear her name. Unfortunately, the process to clear her debt status was lengthy. Her school loans would not be reinstated until she got the debt situation cleared up with AT&T. That meant that she had to drop out of college. Transunion, the credit reporting bureau listed the default judgment against Rachel rather than Raqul and the damage to her credit rating was devastating. As a result of Transunion erroneously damaging her credit and causing her student loan to be cancelled, Rachel started a personal injury lawsuit against them.

Rachel claims that the damage to her credit report has caused her to be denied her college education which will affect her ability to earn a living for the rest of her life. She is claiming that Transunion was negligent because they did not check to see if Raqul shared any personal identifiers with her. Transunion does not claim that the two people had the same social security numbers, dates of birth, or even the same address. They claim that the incident was just a normal human error and as soon as they were able to verify that the two persons were not the same, they removed it. Unfortunately for Rachel, it was too late to prevent her lender from denying her student loans.

The court evaluated the issue. They confirmed that Rachel did not even use AT&T, nor did she have any knowledge that Raqul existed. She did not work in concert with Raqul to defraud AT&T of any money that was owed to them. Her initial claim against the company Transunion was based on the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. It was dismissed because the court that reviewed it had stated that the case was filed after the statute of limitations for the offense had expired. She then filed the action through the New York State Fair Credit Reporting Act. Transunion requested that the court issue a summary judgment on their behalf dismissing the case because it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired. The court determined that in order to properly review this case, it would be necessary to examine the statute.

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In 1997, plaintiff underwent a liver biopsy based upon symptoms of portal hypertension which did not show established cirrhosis. In 2001, a magnetic resonance imaging exam indicated that the plaintiff had micronodular cirrhosis. In July 2004, plaintiff underwent liver transplant surgery. Thereafter, plaintiff was diagnosed with incomplete septal cirrhosis (hereinafter ISC), a condition that reflected either an ongoing injury or a regression of liver scarring. In addition, plaintiff was diagnosed with hepatoportal sclerosis (hereinafter HPS), a relatively uncommon liver condition which can lead to the shrinking of the liver and the development of portal hypertension.

Subsequently, plaintiff commenced the instant action against defendant, which manufactures and sells Tylenol; that her intake of Tylenol caused her injuries. In the amended complaint, the plaintiff sought to recover damages for negligence, failure to warn, defective design, breach of implied and express warranties, and a violation of the General Business Law; to recover damages for the personal injuries suffered under product liability. Expert disclosures were presented before the court.

Following discovery, defendant moved to preclude plaintiff’s expert testimony relating to the plaintiff’s theory of medical causation and for summary judgment dismissing the amended complaint.

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The Facts:

Plaintiffs commenced a products liability action against major U.S. tobacco companies to recover compensatory and punitive damages for the personal injuries suffered by, and eventual death of the decedent, who allegedly smoked cigarettes manufactured by defendants. On 20 February 2004, plaintiffs filed their summons and complaint.

Following a motion to dismiss the complaint, the defendants remaining in the action are four tobacco manufacturers.

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In this action, a couple who owned two curly coated bichon frises filed an action against another dog and its owner. The couple seeks injury damages to include the costs of veterinarian services, two days lost wages in caring for another dog and all other appropriate damages.

The incident happened when the owner of the German shepherd allowed her dog to run loose without a leash and it occurred twice. On those two occasions, the German shepherdentered onto the couples’ property and viciously attacked the curly coated bichon frise causing severe injury. On both occasions, the bichon frise was taken to a veterinarian for treatment of the injuries inflicted by the German shepherd. The veterinarian bills were $392 for the first dog attack and $182 for the second animal attack.

Consequently, the couple commenced a lawsuit in another court seeking damages for the injuries sustained by their dog and themselves. After the proceeding, the court found that the German shepherd and its owner were responsible for the injuries inflicted upon the bichon frises and awarded damages of $524.

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