Articles Posted in Product Liability

Expert testimony is a critical portion of New Hampshire product liability cases. An expert witness is a person who possesses education, training, and skills in a particular field relevant to the case or specific issue at hand. Based on their credentials, these individuals can provide testimony to support a plaintiff’s contention of negligence and the appropriate damages. The most common types of experts are medical and technical professionals such as physicians, forensic analysts, scientists, engineers, mental health professionals, and economic professionals.

Both federal and New Hampshire state civil rules of procedure follow the Daubert standard to determine the admissibility of an expert witness’s testimony. The Daubert standard consists of five factors that the court will use to determine whether an expert’s methodology is valid. The standards include:

  • If the technique or theory has been tested;

The last year has brought significant changes to the daily lives of most people throughout the country. One of the major changes involved the rising sales of home exercise equipment. Despite the various benefits of home exercise equipment, these devices can be dangerous when they are defective or not used properly. New Hampshire personal injury accidents involving home, public, or private exercise equipment can result in severe injuries and even death. Gym equipment accidents may involve defective treadmills, stationary bikes, weights, and resistance bands. Moreover, gym accidents can occur because of the negligence of personal trainers, gym staff, unhygienic gym equipment, and unsafe fitness centers. Those that have suffered injuries because of potentially defective or unreasonably dangerous exercise equipment should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

Although people of any age can suffer injuries on home exercise equipment, data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System indicates that around 12,174 children visit the emergency room for home exercise-related injuries every year. Over 70% of these individuals were under ten years old. The overwhelming majority of the injuries involved lacerations. About 30% of the injuries involved the child’s head, 22% involved fingers and hands, and over 10% involved foot injuries. Stationary bikes, treadmills, and jump ropes accounted for the majority of the injuries. The rising number of injuries highlights the importance of additional safety measures to prevent these devastating incidents.

Recently, a national news report described a harrowing incident involving a child’s death on a Peloton treadmill. Although details surrounding the incident are unclear, Peloton’s CEO expressed sadness about receiving the news of the child’s death. A company spokesperson explained that the treadmill comes with safety warnings that advise consumers that the machine should only be used by individuals who are at least 16-years-old and weigh more than 105 pounds.

Unfortunately, food health and safety issues arise more frequently than we realize. Whether you shop in-person, pick up groceries curbside, or get them delivered, we all have to get our weekly necessities somehow. When you carefully select your items, however, there is a reasonable assumption of food safety and freshness, no matter what you’re buying. In the event that a product is spoiled or contains hazardous materials that could injure you, you may have grounds to file a New Hampshire product liability lawsuit for damages.

For example, according to a recent news report, a frozen food favorite–Hot Pockets–were recalled nationally after extraneous materials were discovered inside the product. According to federal regulatory officials, these frozen food products were recalled after a potential case of glass and plastic contamination was discovered. Following several consumer complaints of extraneous materials in their food and one complaint of an injury, the manufacturing company of the frozen food recalled more than 750,000 pounds of product that had been shipped to various stores across the country.

New Hampshire, like other states, has specific laws that cover product liability claims in the event that a faulty product injures or kills someone. A product liability action can be brought in New Hampshire when personal injury, property damage, or death takes place that was caused by a defective product. The product could have been made faulty or defective in the process of development, manufacture, warning, or advertising, among other things. Manufacturers may also be liable in situations where they misrepresented claims associated with the product or were negligent in the process of production or assembly. Potential plaintiffs can sue manufacturers or other companies in the supply chain that are responsible for bringing a product to market.

Injuries from defective products can have a devastating impact on individuals and their loved ones. In many cases, consumers suffer serious injuries after using or consuming dangerous products. New Hampshire product liability lawsuits generally stem from design defects, manufacturing defects, or marketing defects. When individuals experience injuries or damages due to these defects, they may be entitled to monetary compensation to cover their medical treatment, physical pain, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of their lives.

The majority of product recall lawsuits arise from injuries related to automotive defects, tobacco products, automobile parts, medical devices, and asbestos. In addition, many defective product cases concern defective prescription drugs. Consumers may file a lawsuit even if the pharmaceutical company issues a recall for potentially harmful medication or medical device. For instance, according to a recent news report, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced that Acella Pharmaceuticals, LLC, is voluntarily recalling a thyroid medication that may have sub potency levels of the active component.

The company explained that the drug treats patients experiencing hypothyroidism. However, those taking the sub potent drug may suffer dangerous symptoms. These side effects are particularly harmful to newborns, infants, and pregnant women. Symptoms include fatigue, sensitivity to cold, constipation, dermatological issues, hair loss, slow heart rate, depression, and weight fluctuations. Further, there is a serious risk of miscarriage, fetal hyperthyroidism, and impairments to fetal neural and skeleton development. Additionally, older adults and those suffering from cardiac issues may experience palpitations and arrhythmia. The company provided notices to medical offices, pharmacies, and wholesalers.

As cooler temperatures begin to move in, one of life’s simplest pleasures is sitting in a coffee shop with a warm, toasty beverage and catching up with a friend. However, no one expects to be injured by their favorite hot drink, especially when the injury was caused by a defective cup or negligence on the part of the coffee shop. When these unfortunate accidents happen, those responsible can be held accountable through a New Hampshire personal injury lawsuit.

In a recent appellate opinion, a plaintiff sued a major coffee retailer after spilling a cup of hot tea she purchased from the retailer’s store, suffering significant second-degree burns. Under a theory of product liability and negligence, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s cup was defective.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff ordered two cups of hot tea for herself and a friend on the day of the incident. When the drinks were ready, each drink had a lid and was “double-cupped,” meaning the cup containing the drink was inserted into a second empty cup. Neither drink had a sleeve around the outside cup. When the plaintiff picked up the drinks, she noticed that they were extremely hot, and attempted to drink from the cup while seated and leaning forward to take a sip. Unfortunately, her chair pushed forward unexpectedly, and she grabbed onto the table to maintain her balance, resulting in the drink spilling onto her thighs. The lower court ruled in favor of the defendant coffee retailer, and the plaintiff appealed.

As health experts recommend people wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and take other health precautions to avoid illness, products like hand sanitizer have become highly sought after during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, many companies have increased production on hand sanitizers and disinfectants to meet this heightened need. However, in order to meet the demand, not all hand sanitizer manufacturers have created a safe product for consumers. According to a recent article, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently recalled dozens of widely available hand sanitizers because they contain potentially deadly levels of wood alcohol. Product recalls like these can often result in serious injury to consumers, and may be the basis for a New Hampshire product liability claim.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol. However, many of the recalled products instead contain methanol, or wood alcohol. Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and may even cause blindness. Furthermore, it is often deadly if ingested.

Besides containing methanol, the recently recalled sanitizers are extremely dangerous because their labels are misleading, indicating the products contain ethanol rather than wood alcohol. Because of the labeling error, consumers are not able to tell whether they are buying hand sanitizer with methanol or ethanol. To help consumers ensure they do not use a dangerous product, the FDA maintains a list of recalled products on its website. Additionally, the FDA warns of products that claim to be “FDA-approved,” as no such label exists.

Recently, the New York Times reported on a recall of bagged salad mixes that are thought to have caused an outbreak of an intestinal illness—cyclosporiasis—caused by a microscopic parasite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned consumers and retailers in eight states to stop buying and selling these mixes while the outbreak is investigated. More than 200 people reported eating the salad mixes before getting sick, and at least 23 have been hospitalized due to the illness. The outbreak seems to have started in mid-May, and has affected people from ages 16 to 92 years old. The story is an illustration of harms New Hampshire residents could face from contaminated grocery products.

Cyclosporiasis is caused by Cyclospora cayetanensis, which is a microscopic parasite that can contaminate both food and water. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis include cramping, diarrhea, and fatigue. Fortunately, the illness can be treated with an antibiotic, and some healthy people may recover on their own even without treatment. The first outbreak of the illness that was linked with food was reported in the 1990s, and scientists are still are not sure what caused it. However, 2020 is the third year in a row that has seen an outbreak during the warmer months. One food microbiologist who spoke to the New York Times stated that the outbreaks are likely due to the quality of water used to irrigate the produce, but that there are a lot of unknown variables.

Sometimes, when a New Hampshire resident gets sick, it is not clear what caused the sickness. It may be hard or even impossible for some to connect their illness to something specific they ate. That’s why New Hampshire residents who get unexpectedly sick should be on the lookout for both voluntarily and forced recalls of food products, and see if others in their house who did or did not eat certain products also get sick or not.

New Hampshire law allows those who are injured by the use of a defective product to bring a personal injury claim against the product’s manufacturer, retailer, supplier, or even sometimes another related party. These suits, called “product liability” lawsuits, sometimes lead to a discussion of what exactly constitutes a product. For example, if a water slide at an amusement park is defective and leads to a user’s injuries, can they file product liability suit against the park? Recently, a state appellate court considered this exact issue in a decision that may shed insight into how New Hampshire courts would handle the same situation.

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff in the case was visiting a theme park operated by the defendant. He went down a water slide at the park, but during the course of his ride, he accidentally slipped from a seated position on an inner tube onto his stomach. When he entered the splash pool at the end of the slide, his feet hit the bottom of the pool, causing him to fracture his hip and his pelvis.

The plaintiff sued the defendant under a theory of product liability, claiming that the water slide was a defective product that caused his injuries. The plaintiff argued that he could sue the operator of the park because they were in the water slide’s “chain of distribution.” The defendant asked the court to dismiss this claim, arguing that the doctrine of product liability did not apply because they were not supplying the plaintiff with the product, but instead delivered an amusement “service” to him. As such, the court had to consider this important question: is purchasing a ticket to an amusement park and riding a water slide at an amusement park considered a product or a service? Put another way, were guests to the amusement park buying tickets to the park primarily to use the water slides, or primarily to obtain a service which may involve the use of water slides? If the former, then product liability is appropriate. If the latter, then is it not.

As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to affect individuals across the country, more and more New Hampshire residents are working from, and spending more time in, their homes. For many, this has prompted an increase in purchasing new furniture online—a new desk for working from home, a comfortable sofa for nights in, or a new mattress for a family member who’s moved in. In fact, NBC news recently reported that Wayfair, an online furniture marketplace, has had massive spikes in their revenue and active customers since early March of this year. While new furniture can be helpful or beneficial for many families, improperly designed furniture can be dangerous and can even cause serious injuries. While these injuries can be devastating and unexpected, New Hampshire law does protect consumers by allowing those injured by improperly designed or defective furniture to recover in a product liability lawsuit.

For example, last month the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission published information on a recall of dressers and cabinets that were sold in the United States and Canada. The recalled dressers and cabinets were found to be unstable and could tip over if not anchored to the wall, which poses a serious threat to children who may unintentionally cause them to tip over. According to the recall, the hazard could cause serious injuries or even death. About 2,700 units were sold, and consumers who purchased the unit are entitled to a full refund.

The above example is just one of many recalls that occur each year on cabinets, refrigerators, dressers, couches, desks, and more. Typically, these recalls offer refunds to those who purchased the unit. However, if someone has already been injured due to the product’s defect or design, the refund may not be enough to cover their medical bills and expenses. Alternatively, sometimes a consumer may be injured by a product that has not yet been recalled. In these situations, injured consumers may consider filing a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer and/or the seller of the item. If successful, these suits can lead to monetary compensation to cover the injured victim’s past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

After several months of investigation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that manufacturers of over-the-counter and prescription drugs containing ranitidine, such as Zantac, must immediately pull their products from the market. The FDA’s announcement comes after researchers discovered that many of these drugs contain unsafe levels of a contaminant, commonly referred to as NDMA. New Hampshire individuals who suffered injuries after consuming an unsafe medication, such as Zantac, may have a claim for damages under the state’s product liability laws.

Despite numerous studies indicating the link between ranitidine and cancer, for years, doctors and pharmacists have recommended these drugs for heartburn, stomach pains, and gastrointestinal issues. Moreover, evidence suggests that to protect their financial interest, some pharmaceutical companies concealed the link between cancer and the products for several years.

The FDA began conducting more extensive preliminary testing of the products’ NDMA levels after an online retailer alerted the agency of the extremely high levels of the cancer-causing agent in their products. Although, many food and drinks contain small levels of NDMA, the agency warns that the drugs in issue contain levels that are unsafe for human consumption. Some of the samples they tested contained insignificant levels of the contaminant; however, others had significant levels of the impurity. They discovered that the impurity level increased when the product was left out at higher temperatures for more extended periods.

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