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The Risk of Driving on Recalled Tires

Auto tires are highly engineered and carefully constructed to provide safe performance under a wide range of conditions. Like any sophisticated product, tires can be subject to manufacturer recalls. Such recalls can come about as a manufacturer learns about problems revealed by the real-world use of their products. When drivers learn about a recall of a tire that is mounted in their cars, it’s important to take immediate steps to respond to the recall. The underlying cause of tire recalls can vary widely. Some recent recalls have included potential problems with sidewall or tread adhesives coming apart. Others have reported cases where the steel cords lying underneath the outer rubber of a tire could become exposed. In each case the threat to drivers is a sudden loss of tire pressure, loss of traction, and loss of control. Even at low speeds a catastrophic tire problem can lead to a serious crash. Nevada’s products liability law gives people who are injured by defective products the option of suing the manufacturer and marketer of the product for compensation. A manufacturer recall doesn’t free the manufacturer from liability for injuries caused by the defect to which the recall relates. If anything, a recall is intended to reduce the risk that someone will get hurt and sue. A recall can even be useful to a plaintiff in a personal injury trial, provided that the plaintiff can prove that the specific defect addressed in the recall also caused the plaintiff’s injury. Proving that a specific defect caused an accident can require the help of an expert as the specific source of a tire failure may be impossible for an untrained person to identify. Expert witnesses can charge substantial fees for their work, but the expert’s analysis and testimony can be critical to show that a defendant’s product was defective. An expert’s testimony is likely to be especially useful for plaintiffs who want to use the fact of a recall as part of their case for the defendant’s liability. If a driver knows about a tire recall but ignores it or puts off getting the problem resolved, the tire manufacturer may have an argument that the driver has assumed the risk of injury by continuing to use the defective tires. Such a defense may grow more convincing as time passes. A driver who is injured by a tire failure while on the way to the shop to have the tire promptly replaced under the manufacturer’s recall program probably won’t face this defense. But a driver who goes for six months after receiving (and reading) the notice may have a harder time recovering full compensation if something goes wrong. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and products liability cases. If you or a loved one has been injured by an accident caused by a defective tire, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Interesting Product Recalls from 2018

Consumer product recalls often offer interesting insights into the concerns manufacturers have about the risk of injury posed by their products. Recalls happen when a flaw in a product’s design or manufacture creates an unacceptable danger. Examining them reveals the sort of injuries that may give rise to products liability lawsuits. Manufacturers often voluntarily recall their products that have proven dangerous. Sometimes these recalls are triggered by lawsuits bringing risks to the manufacturers’ attention, while in other situations the problem is discovered through the manufacturer’s internal testing procedures, or through investigations by regulators. Sometimes regulators sue manufacturers to force recalls for violations of safety standards or other compliance problems. Regulators maintain lists of recalled products on their websites. Two examples are the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In 2018 there were plenty of product recalls to watch. The recalls ran the gamut:
  • Many products designed for children were recalled for choking hazards, such as this jacket with a zipper that could become detached.
  • Numerous high-profile lettuce recalls due to coli and other contaminants disrupted supplies enough to force many restaurants to stop serving lettuce altogether.
  • Major home appliances like this water heater are often recalled for problems with minor parts that can be replaced with a minor, manufacturer-provided repair.
  • An elevator model was recalled due to the alarming possibility that it could “fall unexpectedly to the bottom of the elevator shaft and abruptly stop.”
  • Nearly 1.4 million units of this printer power supply were recalled due to a fire hazard.
Manufacturers issue recalls to prevent injuries to their customers. Besides not wanting to hurt people, these companies also want to avoid expensive products liability litigation. Issuing a recall doesn’t absolve a business of its products liability obligations, but it may reduce the chance that someone will be seriously injured and sue. Consumers should take recall notices seriously. A consumer who knows about a recall and is injured while using the product anyway should still consider filing a lawsuit, but may have a more difficult legal case to make. Even in such cases, products liability law provides consumers with powerful tools for pursing compensation from manufacturers who sell defective goods. If you have been injured by a defective or improperly designed product you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal options. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in products liability cases for over 45 years. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

What Relaxed Asbestos Rules Might Mean

Asbestos is the name given to a collection of naturally occurring minerals that have properties useful in a wide range of commercial and industrial applications. Among other things, asbestos is an effective fire retardant. The risks to human health posed by asbestos have been understood as far back as the early 1900s, and today we know that it can cause long-term problems, including cancer. In the 1970s authorities in the United States began a concerted effort to ban its use in certain products, especially drywall. In 1989 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned all new uses of asbestos, while allowing existing uses to continue, and adopted regulations governing the inspection of buildings for potential asbestos hazards. In June 2018 the EPA announced a proposed a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) addressing asbestos use. The SNUR was proposed due to a regulatory gap in existing law, which leaves a range of potential asbestos uses unregulated. The SNUR makes clear that the uses it is aiming at were in use as late as 1991, but are no longer in use today. The explanation is that manufacturers have voluntarily avoided these unregulated uses in large part to avoid potential liability for incorporating a carcinogen into their products. The SNUR aimed to bring these out-of-use but unregulated applications for asbestos into a framework to give the EPA mechanisms to evaluate and regulate them. Among other things, the SNUR proposes to ban the use of asbestos in clothing and a range of construction products. Critics of the SNUR have raised two chief concerns. The first is that the SNUR does not address all potential new, unregulated uses of asbestos, leaving in place significant regulatory gaps. The second concern is that the SNUR’s proposed examination procedure would stop the EPA from considering historical data when evaluating proposed new uses. This means that the deep scientific background in the risks posed by asbestos will not be included in future product evaluations. The new rule also narrows the definition of “asbestos” to potentially leave dangerous compounds beyond the reach of regulators. How the proposed rules may affect public health remains to be seen. The fact that the SNUR addresses currently unregulated uses should give some comfort that manufacturers are already deterred from those uses by other legal standards, including state products liability laws. The risk of liability for widespread cancers and other diseases related to asbestos exposure serves as a powerful deterrent even without EPA action. Still, if new uses for asbestos are approved under the process proposed in the SNUR they could lead to a higher incidence of asbestos in our environment. It seems that ordinary people, especially those who work around old construction, will need to continue to be mindful of the potential risks of asbestos exposure. Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm with over four decades of experience in products liability litigation. We can help clients who have been injured by exposure to asbestos seek recovery from responsible parties. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

NutriBullet Class Action Raises Explosion Concerns

Capital Brands, the maker of the popular NutriBullet line of high-speed blenders, has been sued by a various plaintiffs who claim that the blenders caused injuries by exploding unexpectedly. The suits allege that pressure builds up inside the blender during operation. The pressure can cause the canister to explode, sending hot liquid and other contents into the air. A recent suit also alleges that the blender’s blade assembly can be forcefully ejected from the unit as a consequence of the pressure buildup, threatening serious injury to users. The latest string of explosion-related lawsuits is not the first time the NutriBullet has come under scrutiny for potential safety problems. In 2014 Consumer Reports gave the NutriBullet Pro 900 model a “Don’t Buy” rating due to concerns that the blender’s blades could come loose and cause choking or internal cuts. The rating was later lifted after the product was redesigned. Cases against Capital Brands have focused on the company’s failure to warn consumers about the potential dangers of explosions. This could be an important component in any case brought in Nevada. A typical consumer products liability claim in Nevada focuses on whether a product was defective at the time it left the defendant manufacturer’s possession. To prevail the consumer must have used the product in a reasonably foreseeable way and been injured by the product’s latent defect. People in Nevada who use NutriBullet products should take steps to avoid being injured by their blenders. First, watch for recalls covering your blender. If Capital Brands is found liable for injuries that have given rise to lawsuits it may voluntarily recall some products to avoid future lawsuits. Although a recall doesn’t necessarily affect a manufacturer’s liability for defective products, it is much better to avoid being injured at all than to suffer an injury and then seek compensation. Second, be sure to follow instructions with care. Capital Brands has modified its instruction manuals to caution users against certain types of pressure buildup and the risks of putting hot materials inside the blender. It’s important to follow these instructions to avoid injury. These instructions may also give the company a way to limit its liability in some situations. Someone who has been injured while using a NutriBullet should consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and products liability cases. We are here to answer your questions about injuries caused by defective or unreasonably dangerous products. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.

Is Roundup Responsible for Health Problems?

In recent years a flurry of scientific studies have begun calling into question the potential human health effects of widespread use of the herbicide Roundup. The chemical has been linked to celiac disease (gluten intolerance), among other things. While research continues, people who are suffering from health problems that might be related to Roundup may want to understand their legal options.

How Roundup works

Roundup is part of a host of agricultural products manufactured by Bayer, which acquired Roundup and numerous other agribusiness products when it completed its purchase of Monsanto earlier this year. Roundup is an herbicide, designed to kill weeds around crops. Bayer sells Roundup-resistant seeds for a wide variety of commercial crops, which allow farmers to make heavy use of Roundup without damaging their crops. A key active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, works by inhibiting a key part of the process plants use to synthesize proteins. One of the core arguments for glyphosate’s safety for humans and other animals is that the natural system it disrupts is only present in plants. But Roundup consists of more than just glyphosate. Some researchers have raised questions about the other, secret ingredients used in Roundup. In recent years Monsanto (and now Bayer) has encouraged farmers to use Roundup not just to kill weeds, but also to dry out crops just as they are going to seed. This process encourages plants to bolt, with the result that many more seeds are produced. For seed crops like wheat, this process results in significantly higher yields and therefore greater returns for the farmer. But it also leaves more Roundup on the crop than might otherwise be there. Some researchers have tied this practice directly to the rise of gluten intolerance in the general public.

The science on Roundup is not settled

Laboratory studies on glyphosate and Roundup have reached troubling conclusions about the chemical’s potential effects on human and animal health. The World Health Organization has indicated that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic,” with toxicity similar to many other common products. Various studies using rats and worms have found the chemical to cause a range of neurological and cellular damage in high doses. But other organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have concluded that the chemical is unlikely to be a carcinogen. Unsurprisingly, the industry itself has produced research that concludes that the chemical is safe when used in appropriate amounts. The conflicting results of research conducted to date makes the environment more challenging for lawsuits against Bayer for health effects linked to Roundup. Plaintiffs not only need to prove that Roundup is the likely source of their health problems, they also must overcome the significant weight of contradictory science. This isn’t to say that a lawsuit isn’t justified. But it means that the stakes are high and the challenges significant.

Talk to a Las Vegas personal injury attorney about your case

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you think you are suffering from health problems as a consequence of exposure to Roundup, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Failing Knee Replacements Leading to More Lawsuits

A defective joint replacement can cause severe pain and lead to additional surgeries and recovery time. It can also cause or worsen trip-and-fall accidents. In recent years patients who have received certain knee replacements have been pursuing products liability claims against the replacements’ manufacturers. There are several types of knee replacement, all of which involve the surgical installation of hardware to replace or supplement the knee’s natural structures. In a total knee replacement, the most common type, the surfaces of both the thigh and shin bones are replaced using implants that are attached to the bones themselves. Implants are often attached to the bone using a specialized glue called bone cements. Patients who have had knee replacement surgery can suffer a range of potential complications after surgery. Some complications are typical of medical procedures in general: infections, challenges with healing, slow restoration of movement, and so on. But some types of complication are specific to way implants are made or designed. Implant problems can also arise from improper installation by the surgeon. Surgical mistakes can include misalignment of the implants, among other things. An example of lawsuits against implant manufacturer DePuy. Plaintiffs have sued DePuy for problems with its Attune knee replacement hardware. Some patients have experienced loosening of the bone cement intended to keep the hardware in place. As the cement loosens, patients experience pain and instability in the affected knee, and can require additional surgery to correct the problem. Nevadans who have suffered complications from a defective knee replacement may have a legal claim against the manufacturer of the implant for products liability. In some cases the patient may also have a claim against the surgeon who performed the operation. Quite often plaintiffs can benefit from pooling their resources in a class action. As one might expect, medical cases involve complicated facts that need to be analyzed by an attorney to determine the best course for the client. If you are suffering with complications from a defective knee replacement consider consulting with an attorney to understand your legal options. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury, products liability, and medical malpractice cases. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Auto Safety Recalls and Products Liability

Auto Safety Recalls and Products Liability
Safety recalls are a routine part of the automotive world. Harley-Davidson recently had to recall a large number of motorcycles to address concerns that owners may not be properly maintaining their antilock braking systems, creating a risk of dangerous failure. Vehicles with the now-notorious Takata airbag system have been recalled in vast numbers to address a design flaw that has been deemed responsible for at least 15 deaths in the United States. Owners of recalled vehicles should be mindful of how such recalls can affect their ability to sue a manufacturer.

Is the manufacturer liable for injuries caused by its defective products?

Nevada’s products liability laws give consumers robust protection against defective products by making manufacturers and marketers responsible for compensating anyone injured while using them. In a nutshell, a manufacturer of a product can be liable for injuries provided that the product was actually defective at the time it left the manufacturer’s factory and the defect injured the plaintiff while the plaintiff was using it in a foreseeable way. Products liability laws are a major reason manufacturers go to the expense of issuing recalls. Consider the Harley-Davidson brakes recall. The issue with the motorcycles’ breaks wasn’t necessarily that they were inherently defective, but rather that owners weren’t following the instructions in the owner’s manual to regularly flush and replace brake fluid. An owner who failed to follow the recommended maintenance routine could end up in an accident due to a failure in the antilock system. The fact that the owner hadn’t followed the owner’s manual to the letter might help Harley-Davidson in court. But a jury could just as likely conclude that owners not studying their manuals is a foreseeable problem. Sure, an owner might glance through the book once or twice, but it’s hardly realistic to assume that every owner will follow recommended maintenance procedures to the letter. In fact, the opposite situation, where the owner doesn’t attend to regular maintenance at all, is probably common.

Recalls and litigation

In the context of personal injury litigation, the fact that a product was recalled to address the specific fault that caused the plaintiff’s injury can be a factor in determining liability. The recall is effectively an admission by the manufacturer that there’s a problem. But a recall doesn’t mean that the plaintiff automatically prevails. The defense can still raise a number of stout arguments, including:
  • Did the plaintiff know about the recall and ignore it?
  • Did anyone else work on the vehicle, potentially creating the specific problem that caused the plaintiff’s injury?
  • Did the issue that triggered the recall really cause the injury, or was there another cause? For example, did the motorcycle’s antilock braking system fail to work and cause the crash, or was the road slippery with spilled oil, making it unsafe even with fully working brakes?
Issues like these will invariably complicate a products liability lawsuit against an auto manufacturer. Someone who is injured needs an experienced products liability attorney to help them put together the best possible case. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

How Product Recalls Affect Manufacturer Liability

How Product Recalls Affect Manufacturer Liability
Thousands of consumer goods get recalled every year, from tainted lettuce to defective cars. Sometimes a manufacturer voluntarily issues a recall after discovering a problem that makes their product unsafe. Other times a regulatory agency, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, will take legal action to compel a manufacturer to issue a recall. Someone who is injured by a recalled product continues to have legal recourse against the manufacturer for products liability.

A product recall is not a “get out of jail free” card

Nevada’s products liability law provides that anyone involved in the creation or marketing of a dangerously defective product may be held legally responsible for any injuries the defect causes. NRS 695E.090. This captures not only the product’s manufacturer, but also its designer, importer, distributor, and marketer. One reason for this broad scope is to ensure that injured consumers have the best opportunity to recover for their damages, without needing to target only one entity. It then falls to the parties involved in the defective product’s distribution chain to work out amongst themselves who is ultimately responsible. Businesses involved in making or marketing consumer goods typically carry insurance to cover products liability claims. An injured plaintiff can sue on two different theories:
  1. Negligence. The plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to take reasonable care to ensure the product was reasonably safe.
  2. Strict products liability. If sufficient facts are available, the plaintiff can seek to shift the burden of proof to the defendant by showing that the defect was present in the product when it left the defendant’s possession, the plaintiff used the product in a foreseeable way, and the defect caused the plaintiff’s injury. Nev. J.I. 7.02.
A product recall doesn’t absolve the parties in the chain of liability from responsibility. In fact, it can be a potentially powerful piece of evidence in a trial. The fact a product was recalled can be used to establish that the product was, in fact, defective. If marketers and distributors don’t pay attention to the recall they may be committing a serious act of negligence. To ensure fairness, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defect was present in the specific item that caused the injury. For example, a manufacturer of electric blankets issues a recall for a blanket due to a short in its power switch that creates a fire risk. If the plaintiff was injured by a fire caused by the same short, chances are good that a court will allow the fact of the recall to be presented to a jury. But if the plaintiff was injured by a different problem with the blanket (such as a short within the sheet itself), the recall probably isn’t relevant.

Ignoring a recall and assuming the risk of injury

Consumers who become aware of a product recall should comply with them to avoid injury. Failing to heed a recall is not just dangerous, but also potentially hands potential defendants a legal argument that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury by continuing to use the product. The weight of an assumption of risk defense will depend on the facts. A plaintiff injured by a burning electric blanket may be assuming the risk of injury if she ignored multiple recall notices and a news story about the issue. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area in products liability cases. If you have been injured by a defective product and have questions about your legal options, our attorneys can help. To speak to an attorney at no cost, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

Who Bears Legal Responsibility for 3D-Printed Devices?

Who Bears Legal Responsibility for 3D-Printed Devices?
3D printing technology promises to revolutionize the way products are designed and made. At the industrial scale it allows manufacturers to build customized goods at a fraction of their historical cost. Affordable consumer-grade 3D printers give anyone with a computer unprecedented creative control over the design and construction of products. But if a 3D-printed item is unsafe and causes an injury, who bears responsibility? A 3D printer works by translating a digital model into a real object typically made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), a common plastic used in all sorts of products. The printer builds up an object one thin layer at a time, allowing designs to incorporate complex elements like hinges or wheels. In theory a 3D printer can be used to create just about anything. Libraries of downloadable model files are available on the web, many of them for free. Many designs are simple toys or decorative objects. But other models are for useful objects. Instead of tossing out an old product with a broken part, the consumer could simply print a replacement part. Instead of running to the store to track down a specialized tool for solving a particular problem, the consumer could simply print one.

The potential risk of harm from 3D-printed objects

There probably is little harm if a model file for a cat figurine doesn’t print out correctly. But some products may involve real risk of personal injury. For example, a printed model of a safety fitting on a chainsaw may not have the same performance specifications of the original part, perhaps because the printer’s output material isn’t appropriate for the application or because the model itself isn’t precisely the right shape. If a consumer is injured by an improperly designed model the creator of the model might be legally liable for damages. Most likely such a case would need to be based on a theory of negligence. The injured person must show that the designer did not take reasonable care to ensure that the model would be safe in reasonably foreseeable applications. A designer might be responsible for warning consumers if the model needs to be made using a specific kind of material, especially if it is something other than ABS. A central challenge for a plaintiff in such cases will be proving the source of the defect in the 3D-printed object. The model designer likely will point out that he or she had nothing to do with the printing process itself, which could introduce flaws that aren’t inherent in the design. There may also be a good argument that the user of a 3D-printed object assumes the risk that it will not work the way an ordinary commercial product would.

Talk to a personal injury attorney if you have questions

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured by a 3D-printed object we can guide you through your legal options. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or request a call through our website.

Exploding Hoverboards and Products Liability

Exploding Hoverboards and Products Liability
It comes as no surprise that self-balancing scooters, also known as hoverboards, are enormously popular. They’re easier to master than a skateboard but offer a similar sense of freedom. But the technology hasn’t been without problems. Half-a-million hoverboards have been recalled due to concerns that their batteries may overheat, catch fire, and in some cases even explode. Numerous airlines do not allow passengers to carry hoverboards due to this risk. When a hoverboard causes a fire or explodes and personal injuries result, a lawsuit against the manufacturer may be warranted.

Recalls and products liability cases

When a product is recalled—either by the voluntary decision of a manufacturer or due to regulatory action by a government agency—one hopes that the recall reaches every customer and manages to capture all of the defective units before they can hurt anyone. Unfortunately, recalls don’t always work as well as a manufacturer might hope. When a recalled product causes a personal injury the fact that the product was recalled can be a useful piece of evidence for establishing a manufacturer’s liability. To serve as evidence the recall must relate to the defect that caused the injury. In the case of hoverboards, a plaintiff injured by an exploding battery could use the manufacturer recall to show that the explosion was caused by a defect inherent in the plaintiff’s specific hoverboard. But if the plaintiff was injured by a hoverboard that suddenly stopped, causing the plaintiff to fall, the battery recall would not be relevant. By itself a product recall doesn’t relieve a manufacturer from liability for its defective products. The goal of the recall is to protect consumers from injuries, but behind that goal is the company’s aim to avoid expensive litigation. Nevertheless, a defendant manufacturer will make an effort to prove that the plaintiff knew about the recall and continued to use the defective product anyway. In such cases the plaintiff may be deemed to have assumed the risk of injury.

Theories of products liability for hoverboards

A manufacturer of hoverboards could be held liable for selling defective products under a theory of negligence or strict products liability. Negligence requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant did not take reasonable precautions to ensure that its product was safe for consumers. A failure to perform safety tests, or an unreasonably risky design choice, could be used to establish a breach of the manufacturer’s duty toward consumers. A strict products liability claim can be an easier route for plaintiffs in the right circumstances, because the source of the defect (i.e., the defendant’s negligence) is not a preliminary issue. To prevail on a strict products liability claim the plaintiff must prove, among other things, that the defect was present in the product when it left the defendant’s possession and caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In the case of hoverboards, a factory-installed battery that explodes and burns the plaintiff probably meets these criteria. But any modifications to the hoverboard, such as a “do-it-yourself” attempt to fix a problem identified in a product recall, may introduce defects that are not the manufacturer’s responsibility, forcing the plaintiff to pursue a negligence claim instead. One advantage of products liability claims in general is that they can be brought against not only the manufacturer of a defective product but also the product’s marketers. Injured plaintiffs therefore have options as to who they sue, especially if they aren’t sure at first who might be responsible for the specific defect that caused their injuries.

GGRM is a products liability law firm in Las Vegas

For more than 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured by a hoverboard we are happy to discuss your legal options with you. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or reach us through our contact page.