Case Study: Products Liability

Consumer products are created to make our lives easier. But, when they contain defects that cause harm or severe injury, proving manufacturer error becomes the crucial step to winning a product liability case.

One night, a mother awoke to the sound of smoke detector alarms and flames shooting up the stairs from her living room. She immediately woke up her husband and together they moved through the smoke and flames to their children’s rooms. Thankfully, they had practiced what to do in the event of a fire and all were able to escape their burning home. Unfortunately, they each suffered second and third-degree burn injuries, smoke inhalation, and even broken bones from jumping out of their second story window to escape.

Why This Case Matters

After the fire, the homeowner’s insurance company did an initial investigation into the cause and believed the fire started from a space heater that was used to help heat the family’s home. The family hired us for a potential products liability case against the manufacturer of the space heater that caused their terrible injuries and suffering. By law, manufacturers are required to ensure their products are safe for intended use.

How We Built
A Winning Case

01 Investigate

We started this case by working with experts on fire causes and origins as well as electrical engineers who inspected the remnants of the home and its contents to determine the cause of the fire. While the space heater was one of many potential sources that started the fire, after careful examinations, the experts stated the cause of the fire started from a defective electrical outlet.

02 Analyze

Once the real cause of the fire was determined, our experts scrutinized the electrical outlet. We worked with a lab to x-ray the insides of the receptacle to determine the safety of the product’s components. We learned the electrical outlet was manufactured in China and were fraught with a history of recalls and manufacturing problems. The unsafe manufacturing specifications created the possibility of a poor connection. We were able to locate other drop-in floor receptacles manufactured by competitors that used the safer design of metal on both sides of the plug that results in better contact—eliminating overheating and the potential for electrical fires.

03 Synthesize

A challenge that we faced during this case was the ever-evolving nature of Pennsylvania Products Liability Law, since at the time of our case, new precedents for product liability were being established by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. But, as a team of lawyers with decades of experience handling product liability, we were uniquely poised to understand these changes how they might impact our client’s case.

The Result

In the end, our clients received the justice and compensation they deserved. By working with our clients’ physicians and several burn injury experts, we were able to develop medical animations that depicted the second and third-degree burn injuries along with the medical procedures used to treat the burns.

Lifecare plans were put together to illustrate what medical needs each member of the family would require in the future. As a result of this case, the manufacturer was held accountable for the consequences of their hazardous products. Now, the manufacturer has to make their products safe for the future, so no other family must experience what our clients went through.

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