Many product liability and machine malfunction cases have had a positive impact on workplace health and safety, and we have witnessed improved lives and future injuries prevented as companies are forced to remove products and change designs and warnings as a result of litigation.
Product liability lawsuits often contain causes of action for strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. Strict liability applies to different factors than negligence-based claims.
In negligence cases, the actions of the defendant are the focus. In strict liability claims, the focus is on the condition of a product at the time it left the manufacturer. If a product is determined to be defective, the company is liable for any foreseeable injuries that are in-part caused by the defective condition of the product.
A tool or piece of machinery may be defective if it is unreasonably dangerous for its intended use. A legal cause of action can be based on several types of product defects. The following are product liability and strict liability claims available in most jurisdictions nationwide:
(1) Manufacturing/ Construction Defect:
These issues arise where the machine is released from the factory in a manner that deviates from the intended design or specifications. The defect can be a result of using the wrong materials, including the wrong or completely foreign materials.
As a result of the deviation, the product enters the market in an unreasonably dangerous condition and the worker is exposed to a product that is defective. Any personal injuries or economic loss that arise from the the defect are compensable under product liability law.
(2) Defective design and/or formulation:
Defective machine design product liability cases arise not because a mistake was made during the manufacturing process, but rather the original design of the machine is unreasonably dangerous. A “risk benefit analysis” is used to determine whether safer/less expensive alternative designs were available to the manufacturer.
Federal regulations set minimum standards for the design of many industrial products, and preemption defenses may preclude liability in some situations if the manufacturer follows and obtains federal approval for a product.
(3) Failure to warn or inadequate warning or instruction associated with the product:
All machines and industrial tools come with necessary and appropriate warnings and instructions for use. If the lack of a warning makes the product and use of the product unsafe, the manufacturer is liable for the failure to place the warning.
The machine fails to conform to a representation or warranty. Warranty claims are more common in commercial and economic loss cases than in personal injury cases. In many States, The Product Liability Act does not apply to cases with only economic loss, because the Commercial Code provides recourse for breach of warranty.
The warranty may be written or implied based upon the products intended purpose and merchantability. An example of a breach of warranty cases are cases involving industrial tool defects.
Risks: The following factors are considered under Ohio law when determining the risks associated with the design of a machine: (1) the magnitude of the risk of injury; (2) ordinary consumer awareness of the risk for injury; (3) the likelihood of causing injury; (4) the violation of a private or public standard; and (5) the consumer’s expectation of the performance of the product and level of danger. Ohio Revised Code 2307.5 (B) Product Defective in Design or Formulation.
Benefits: The following factors are considered under Ohio law when determining the benefits associated with machinery design: (1) the utility of the product; (2) availability of an alternative design; (3) the magnitude of risks associated with an alternative design. Ohio Revised Code 2307.5 (c)
Defenses for Defective Design: (1) a machine is not defective by design if it contains an adequate warning of an unavoidably unsafe aspect of the product; (2) the dangerous aspect is inherent to the product, recognizable, and cannot be eliminated without compromising the product’s usefulness; (3) a lack of a feasible alternative design. 2307.75 (d)(e)(f).
A manufacturing defect is based on a defect that occurred during the manufacturing process. Many industrial companies have been involved in this kind of product liability lawsuits in recent years, due to defective machinery.
Most manufacturing defect cases are based on a products deviation from the intended specification, formula, performance standards, or design model. In such cases, it may be easy to determine the product did not comply with the intended design.
The product may be recalled as a specific lot is identified as being non-compliant and defective. A product may be defective in manufacture or construction, materials and assembly, and a manufacturer or distributor may be subject to strict liability, even though it exercised all possible care. Ohio Revised Code 2307.74.
In determining whether a machine or tool is defective due to inadequate warning or instruction, evidence must be presented to prove:
The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured workers and plaintiffs against companies due to a defective machine or malfunctioning machinery to obtain just compensation under the law.