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Product Liability

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We represent manufacturers and distributors in significant product liability matters. Our lawyers have significant experience in claims of alleged defect, breach of warranty, and failure to warn cases.

Lawyers from FHMS have served as regional counsel for the world’s largest manufacturer of durable medical equipment for the past 30 years. That representation, among others, has given us great experience in the complex interplay of the manufacturer and distributor relationship and provided real case examples of the issues involving indemnity, warranty and risk transfer. We appreciate the need to carefully assess our client’s business position in each matter.

We have also handled a broad range of allegedly defective products including, firearms, sporting goods, home appliances, food products, and industrial machinery, among many others.

  • Gregory S. Hirtzel defended a major automotive parts supplier in a product liability failure to warn claim. The case involved a 23-year-old plaintiff who survived 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 90% of his body and was placed in an induced coma for over 3 months. The product at issue was an incandescent trouble (drop) light which the client imported from China and sold under its brand name as meeting OSHA standards. Plaintiff alleged the drop light ignited aspirated fuel vapors that engulfed Plaintiff in flames when a coworker at the engine compartment blew compressed air through the fuel line of a vehicle which plaintiff was attempting to repair. At the time, the drop light was hung under the vehicle from its frame. The commercial garage where Plaintiff was working allegedly constituted a “hazardous environment” under OSHA guidelines and the NEC. Plaintiff contended not only that the Defendant failed to properly warn of the risk of harm which caused Plaintiff’s injuries, but also that the representation on the product’s packaging that it “[met] OSHA Standards” was knowingly and deliberately false. The case was defended on product identification, adequacy of product warnings, misuse and spoliation. Additionally, the case was defended on causation, under the theory that the “end user” of the product was the owner of the commercial repair shop. The owner admitted that he was aware, independent of any warning on the product, that the droplight should not be used around combustible vapors or liquids. All tenders pursuant to vendor’s endorsement and requests for indemnity by the downstream vendors and retailer were successfully rejected. The matter was settled for an amount acceptable to the client.
  • Joseph F. McNulty represented a local Lehigh Valley water amusement park in litigation involving an attorney/Plaintiff who sustained a significant knee injury on a purportedly defective water trampoline. Immediately following Plaintiff’s deposition, where the issue of his knowledge and understanding of the release and waiver that he had signed was explored in depth, Plaintiff dropped his $300,000 demand to the park and entered into a joint tortfeasor settlement for $2,500 and continued his action solely against the manufacturer.
  • Joseph F. McNulty was retained by an oxygen concentrator manufacturer to lead the investigation into a house fire in western Pennsylvania purportedly caused by machine. Examined the product and fire scene with cause and origin and mechanical experts, along with Plaintiff’s subrogation counsel and his experts. Convinced opposing counsel to take the product to an independent product expert, who promptly examined the product in the presence of both counsel and determined it to have been a victim of the fire, not a cause of the fire. No subrogation was pursued.
  • Andrew J. Spaulding represented the manufacturer of a racking system in a warehouse. The racking system collapsed, pinning the 47-year-old plaintiff by the ankle in his forklift. Plaintiff required an ankle fusion and 12 follow-up surgeries. After joining the designer of the system and the maintenance company, we moved to mediation where a favorable settlement was reached.