Duke University's star freshman basketball player, Zion Williamson, suffered a knee injury during a game between Duke and North Carolina. The injury seemed to occur when his Nike shoe appeared to tear as he planted his foot. Williamson, thought by many to be a top NBA draft pick, left the game and did not return. This begs the question: if Williamson suffered a career ending injury, could Williamson sue Nike?
On February 13, 2019, a Texas jury returned a $37.6 million verdict against Honda, finding that the seat belt system in a Honda minivan had a design defect that left a woman paralyzed after the vehicle was involved in a rollover crash.
A Dallas, Texas jury awarded more than $240 million to a family that brought a lawsuit against Toyota for injuries sustained by two children in a rear end car accident. The lawsuit alleged that the front driver seats in the family's 2002 Lexus ES 300 were "unreasonably dangerous and defectively designed." Lawyers for the family argued that the front seats and the passenger restraint systems failed during a collision involving the family.
In February 2016, Daniel Anderson was carrying a spare e-cigarette battery, his keys, and some coins in his left front pocket. When the metal items made contact, it caused a short to the outside of the battery. The resulting explosion caused chemical and thermal burns to Mr. Anderson's left leg and hands.
Firm Partner, Benny Agosto, Jr., successfully settled an airbag defect case last month against General Motors, one of the world's largest car manufacturers. The lawsuit resulted in a combined, confidential settlement for Mr. Agosto's clients. As many are aware, General Motors has come under scrutiny in the previous years, which has led to the recalls of hundreds of thousands of affected vehicles.
On April 19, 2016, the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a precedential opinion finding that state law product liability claims for defective aircraft are not preempted by federal law. The Third Circuit's opinion holds that neither the Federal Aviation Act or a federal agency's decision to issue a certificate approving of an aircraft design preempt state law product liability claims. In doing so, the court found that the presumption against preemption applies in the context of aviation accident claims. The court also found that the FAA contains a savings clause that expressly reserves state law claims. In reaching these conclusions, the Third Circuit recognized that most other courts and jurisdictions, including the United States Fifth Circuit Court of appeals that oversees federal district courts in Texas, reject preemption of product liability actions for aviation accidents. The Third Circuit noted that "[b]esides preserving principles of federalism, this conclusion avoids interpreting the Federal Aviation Act in a way that would have 'the perverse effect of granting complete immunity from design defect to an entire industry that, in the judgment of Congress, needed more stringent regulation.'" The Third Circuit's decision is a positive step toward universal recognition of an injured person's right to seek recovery for injuries caused by airplane and airplane part manufacturers who place unsafe products in the marketplace.
Although balcony calamities are rare, they usually end traumatically. Tuesday June 16, 2015, a birthday celebration quickly turned into a tragedy when a balcony collapsed in apartments near the University of California, Berkley. Thirteen students were thrown fifty feet from the air onto the pavement below. Six students lost their lives that night and seven are fighting to survive. Investigators believe that the collective weight of the thirteen victims overpowered the balcony. Others believe that there was a defect in the design of the balcony allowing rain to damage the supporting wood over the years. The firm that built the apartments has been sued before for similar mishaps in a different project. They are likely to be sued again.
The Supreme Court has agreed that it will hear a case regarding whether a generic drug maker can be held liable in product-liability lawsuit claiming a design defect.