In December 2010, a jury awarded a physical therapist $66 million for injuries that she sustained when an exercise machine manufactured by Cybex fell on her at work. But that was not last year’s largest award. That distinction goes to a verdict against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries for $505.1 million for claims alleging that the packaging of propofol, which has been in the news in connection with Michael Jackson’s death, made it too easy for the drug itself to be contaminated.
In fact, ten of the top 50 jury verdicts in 2010 came from product defect cases. This compares with five in 2009 and one in 2008. There were 15 verdicts of more than $25 million in 2010. In 2009 there were seven. All together, the five largest verdicts when combined were almost 100% more than the awards made in 2009. These verdicts point to a trend: juries are increasing holding companies responsible for putting defective products on the market.