Articles Posted in Product Liability

As technology develops, new products continually hit the market and increase consumer convenience. The rising popularity of electronic scooters and e-bikes has resulted in a boom in sales for such products. Unfortunately, safety regulations lag behind technological advancements, and people across the eastern seaboard are facing dangerous consequences from the lack of proper regulation. A national newspaper recently published an article discussing two deaths in New York City that have been attributed to defective or misused batteries that exploded and caused a fire in an apartment building.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published report, the scooter owner was a parks department employee who used his electric scooter to commute to work. The scooter, which he left in the doorway of his apartment to charge, apparently burst into flames and trapped the occupants. Four dogs and two people perished in the fire, and the owner of the scooter was critically injured. The article states that the housing authority has attributed the fire to the lithium-ion batteries that are used to power the scooter, and that five people have died from battery fires in NYC this year alone.

E-bikes and scooters have exploded in popularity in recent years, but consumers should be cautious when purchasing and using one. Many cheap imported models may be desirable based on the price point, but they are not always certified to be safe. If an imported scooter or bike is defective and causes some sort of harm, it may be difficult for the victim to seek recourse if it was purchased through a third party online and the manufacturer does not directly do business in the United States.

Vehicle fires can lead to serious property damage, significant injuries, and fatalities. Most New Hampshire car fires stem from situations where gas or diesel ignites and causes an explosion. Some common causes of a car fire include:

  • Vehicle defects: A design or manufacturing defect can increase the likelihood of a car explosion and fire. A defect combined with other factors may ignite a fire or create unfavorable conditions that lead to a fire.
  • Motor vehicle collisions: The force of an accident can cause one or more cars to ignite. The vehicle’s engine, battery, or another component may become damaged during an accident and cause gas spillage and an explosion.
  • Improper vehicle maintenance: Poor vehicle maintenance can cause a car explosion or fire.
  • System Failures: Faulty wiring or defective computer systems can increase the likelihood of a vehicle fire.

In some cases, drivers may notice certain signs that indicate a potential explosion or fire. Consumer Reports advises consumers to be aware of warning signs such as:

  • A burning or melting smell.
  • A warning light on the dashboard.
  • Smoke coming from the vehicle.

Vigilance about the presence of these signs can prevent severe injuries and deaths.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) announced that a limited number of Skippy Peanut Butter sold in New Hampshire is being recalled. Skippy Foods, LLC recalls 9,353 cases, nearly 161,692 total pounds, of peanut butter. According to the peanut butter manufacturing company, Hormel Foods, the recall affects SKIPPY® Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread, SKIPPY® Reduced Fat Chunky Peanut Butter Spread and SKIPPY Creamy Peanut Butter Blended With Plant Protein.

According to the announcement, the recall stems from concerns that some peanut butter jars may contain stainless steel fragments from a part of manufacturing equipment at the plant. The company explained that they had not received consumer complaints about the stainless steel fragment; however, they are issuing the recall out of an abundance of caution. Consumers who have the listed products should return the items to their retailer or contact the company’s consumer engagement line for instructions and information.

Those who consume metal or other foreign objects in food may hold the company, restaurant, or another responsible party liable for injuries resulting from ingestion. “Foreign body ingestion” refers to when a person swallows a non-edible object. The condition also refers to edible items that become lodged before reaching the gastrointestinal tract. While many foreign things pass through a person’s body without complications, some objects may require urgent medical treatment.

Lithium-ion batteries offer significant advantages over other batteries, and many common consumer products use these cells. However, despite the benefits of lithium batteries, they can pose significant hazards, including the risk of explosion and fire. New Hampshire consumers who suffer injuries from a lithium-ion battery should contact an experienced attorney to discuss holding the responsibility entity responsible for damages.

Lithium battery refers to electronically connected cells that contain a positive electrode, a negative electrode, a separator and an electrolyte solution. The solutions allow the ion to flow between the electrodes freely. Although many of these batteries are safe, defective batteries present the risk of an explosion. Last year more than 100 fires stemmed from e-bike explosions; these accidents caused 79 injuries and four fatalities.

In response to a growing number of lithium-ion battery explosions, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) engaged in a ‘High Energy Density Batteries Project”. The findings indicated that more than 400 types of lithium-ion cells resulted in over 25,000 overheating incidents over the past five years. In addition, the CPSC issued warnings notifying the public not to purchase loose 18650 lithium-ion batteries.

Tires are one of the most critical parts of a car, and a defect can have disastrous consequences to a vehicle’s occupants and anyone in its vicinity. New Hampshire drivers, passengers, and bystanders who experience injuries because of a tire blowout or other defect may have a claim for damages against multiple parties.

Defective tires are hazardous because of the inherent role tires play in balancing a vehicle’s weight and ensuring proper braking. Further, motorists rely on tires to maneuver the vehicle while traveling at high speeds and avoiding obstacles. Defective tires can cause a motorist to lost control of the car and cause an accident.

The most dangerous and common type of tire defect is tread separation. Tread separation occurs when the tread experiences delamination from the tire. This can occur in cases where the tread is defective, to begin with, or if it has been retreaded using inferior materials. This tread separation can cause vehicles to skid or even cause a tire to blow out. Blowouts occur when a tire explodes while the vehicle is in motion. This is often the result of the rubber losing its connection to the steel belting and reinforcement. However, blowouts may occur if a vehicle owner overpacks a car with too much cargo. The sudden loss can result in the tire rupturing.

During the pandemic, many people purchased workout equipment such as treadmills or stationary bikes, given that many gyms were shut down because of social distancing. But what happens when that piece of exercise equipment you invested in is actually dangerous—and could potentially injure you or your family?

According to a recent news article, Peloton, a fitness and exercise equipment company best known for its high-end equipment and classes, announced that it would recall its treadmills after several reported injuries and a child’s death. Peloton’s chief executive released a statement claiming that the company had “made a mistake” by resisting the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s initial warning about the treadmill earlier last month and is now offering a full refund for all Tread+ and Tread treadmills. The commission reportedly received 72 reports of people, pets, and objects being pulled under the rear of the company’s treadmills, including a six-year-old boy who died. Now, the company is finally moving to refund customers who decide to participate in the voluntary recall and is encouraging treadmill owners to keep their equipment and safety keys stored away from their children.

In New Hampshire, if you or someone you love experiences personal injury, death, or property damage as a result of a defective product, you may have grounds to bring a product liability claim for damages. Under New Hampshire laws, potential plaintiffs who are injured by defective products could receive compensation for medical bills, wrongful death, and pain and suffering, among other claims.

In cases involving highly technical disputes, plaintiffs often retain expert witnesses to testify on the issues at hand. When an expert testified, their testimony is considered evidence that the jury can rely on in reaching a verdict. Not every expert’s testimony, however, is always allowed in court. Sometimes, the other side may move to have your expert’s testimony excluded from the case as a matter of litigation strategy. When such an attempt happens, it is crucial that you ensure that the court applies the proper standard when deciding whether your expert’s testimony is admissible so that you can properly bring your case.

In a recent Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision, the court considered a product liability case involving expert testimony on a surgical device. The plaintiff underwent a robotically-assisted surgical procedure and suffered injuries after it was completed. The medical device used during the surgery was recalled a few months later. The plaintiff sued the manufacturer of the device, seeking money damages to compensate her for the injuries she sustained.

To establish her claim against the manufacturer, the plaintiff retained an expert witness who had significant experience performing the procedure the plaintiff received but with different tools. The manufacturer moved to exclude the expert’s testimony because the expert did not use the instruments at issue in the case, and the district court entered summary judgment in favor of the manufacturer. The plaintiff appealed.

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.

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