Defective products on the market present safety and health hazards for adults and children. Cheap and defective products may pose fire and burn risks; electrocution, strangulation and choking risks; and severe health risks including increased risk for developing cancer. The public needs to be aware of these dangerous risks.
Many defective product lawsuits have had a positive impact on public health and safety. We have witnessed product design changes, recalls, and enhanced warnings as a result of litigation and courageous legal action. In other words, product defect lawsuits make products safer so more families do not suffer the same adverse events.
Defective Product lawsuits provide answers when companies are unwilling to be honest with consumers about the risks and dangers of their products.
Product liability lawsuits also provide for a sense of justice to the families along with compensation and potentially financial security for future medical care and lost income.
Product liability lawsuits often contain causes of action for strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. Strict liability applies 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 leaves the manufacturer.
A product is considered 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 Ohio and in most jurisdictions nationwide:
(1) Manufacturing or Construction Defect
(2) Defective design and/or formulation
(3) Failure to warn or inadequate warning or instruction associated with the product
(4) Misrepresentation or Fraud
(5) Breach of Warranty
Defective design product liability cases arise not because a mistake was made during the manufacturing process, but rather because the original design of the product is unreasonably dangerous.
A “risk-benefit analysis” is used to determine whether safer or less-expensive alternative designs were available to the manufacturer.
Federal regulations set minimum standards for the design of many consumer products, and preemption defenses may preclude liability in some situations if the manufacturer follows and obtains federal approval for a product.
Automotive recalls and product liability cases, for example, are usually a result of a defective design. Common cases include the Toyota Brake Recall, Chrysler Gen III seat belt buckle, and lap belt only cases. Some medical device defect lawsuits also hinge on design defects (Metal on Metal hip implants, transvaginal mesh).
Risks: The following factors are considered under Ohio law when determining the risks associated with the design of a product: (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 product 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 pharmaceutical drug or medical device is not defective by design if it contains an adequate warning of an unavoidably unsafe aspect of the pharmaceutical or medical device; (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).
Manufacturing defect issues arise where the product 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 (e.g., Tylenol contamination, food poisoning, damaged car part from factory installation).
As a result of the deviation, the product enters the market in an unreasonably dangerous condition and the consumer is exposed to a product that is defective. Any personal injuries or economic loss that arise from the the defect are compensable under Ohio product liability law and most jurisdictions.
A manufacturing defect is based on a defect that occurred during the manufacturing process. Many auto companies have been involved in this kind of product liability lawsuits in recent years, due to defective airbags, software defects, tire failure, and other dangerous manufacturing errors.
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.
All consumer products 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 most common area of litigation for failure to warn is in pharmaceutical litigation.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to warn of the known or foreseeable side effects and update the warnings in a timely manner. Litigation arises where there is evidence the manufacturer failed to timely update a warning in light of new data or simply ignored the risk and failed to conduct sufficient research to identify and then disclose the risk.
In determining whether a product is defective due to inadequate warning or instruction, evidence must be presented to prove:
Defenses to Failure to Warn Claims: (1) the risk was open and obvious or a matter of common knowledge; and (2) in cases of a pharmaceutical drug or medical device, the warning was provided to the prescribing physician (“Learned Intermediary Doctrine”).
Many pharmaceutical companies have been targeted in failure to warn lawsuits for either failing to place warnings on medication guides and packaging or failing to properly test their product before putting it to market.
Design and manufacturing defects result in thousands of product recalls each year in the United States, initiated by federal consumer safety agencies. Following injury and illness, regardless of recall status, victims and plaintiffs may pursue legal action and contact a product liability lawyer to begin the litigation process. Rightful compensation can be sought and help plaintiffs recover medical costs and other related damages.
Product liability law overlaps with regulatory law, which are the systems of legislative rules and administrative agencies, and part of federal and state governments. These agencies regulate the safety of the products sold to the public. Examples include:
The listed government agencies, however, may initiate recalls of dangerous products but do not provide remedies or compensation for damages where an individual is injured due to the defective product in question.
Our lawyers will help you find the answers you seek. The Lyon Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases, and we help our clients obtain justice for the wrong they have suffered.
Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Product Liability Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has many years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex consumer safety matters.
Product Liability lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury. Mr. Lyon has worked with product safety experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some defective products cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.
Mr. Lyon has worked with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, biomechanics, epidemiology, metallurgy, pharmacology, toxicology, human factors, workplace safety, life care planning, economics, and virtually every medical discipline in successfully representing Plaintiffs across numerous areas of consumer safety law. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to building the strongest product liability cases possible for clients and their critical interests.
Mr. Lyon has obtained numerous seven and six-figure results in defective products cases including: asbestos, automotive product liability, defective medical device cases, pharmaceutical litigation, firearm defects, home appliances, and toxic exposure.
The firm’s product recall and product defect cases have involved successfully litigating against some of the largest companies in the world including: General Motors, Ford, Daimler Chrysler, KTM, Bayer, Merck, Monsanto, Syngenta, GE, 3M, CR Bard, Medtronic, Glaxo Smith Kline, Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific, AMS, Biomet, Stryker, Depuy, Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Abbvie, FMK Firearms, AK Steel, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Honeywell International, JLG, E.I Dupont De Nemours & Company, John Crane, Shell Oil, Union Carbide, Georgia Pacific, & Flowserve.
Humans factors analysis evaluates how human beings fit into the system or interact with the product. Human factors evidence is based on the understanding that human beings are flawed and therefore systems and products must be designed in a manner to account for foreseeable human behavior. In other words, we know human beings are unreliable and cannot do the task the same every time — if a critical mistake occurs, that mistake could bring the entire system down . Therefore, the risk of human error must be addressed and planned for.
For example, there are limitations in how people may interact with the system or product due to age, memory, gender, health, training, or ability. The limitations can be addressed with either appropriate training, guarding, product design, or via warning. A human factors expert will evaluate these issues and address whether the company properly addressed the foreseeable human behavior that contributed to the event at issue and whether product or system design changes would have prevented that injury.
The Lyon Firm works with human factors experts when those issues are presented in product liability cases.
Depending on the case, the critical types of documents will vary. In general, the practitioner should seek production of documents relevant to design and manufacture of the product, hazard analysis, and risk assessment. The counsel will want to request the following:
Every State has a limitation on the time frame to initiate a product liability lawsuit.
In general, in Ohio an adult has two years to file a lawsuit from the date of the injury. A minor’s statute tolls until the 18th birthday, at which time they have two years from that date.
There are exceptions to the two years, where the agent that caused the injury is discovered later, particularly where there was fraud to cover up discovering the exposure of danger of the product. These exceptions are commonly applied, but the exceptions are complex and require the analysis of a qualified product liability lawyer to address and advise you of the applicable date.
In most cases, the two year limitation will apply and you should not rely on the discovery date without the advice of a qualified product liability lawyer. Moreover, the Ohio Product Liability Act, which was amended significantly in 2005 to reflect the legislature’s tort reform efforts. Claims arising on or after April 7, 2005 are subject to the Act. There are several significant changes to the law that occurred, including a 10 year statute of repose, which precludes liability for these issues are discussed in more detail in the Cincinnati Product Liability Lawyer articles section.
 Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2307.71-2307.81 (Anderson 2006).
Generally, a manufacturer’s compliance or non-compliance with government safety standards is not necessarily a complete defense to proof of a strict liability claim. Similarly, compliance or noncompliance with industrial or professional safety standards does not constitute either a complete defense to or proof of a strict liability claim.
With respect to product liability claims for harm caused by a drug or device, a manufacturer is not liable for punitive damages if the drug or device in question was manufactured, labeled and marketed in accordance with federal law. This bar on punitive damages does not apply if plaintiff can prove that the manufacturer fraudulently withheld from the government agency or misrepresented to the government agency material information known to be relevant to the harm suffered by the plaintiff.
 See Knitz v. Minster Mach. Co., 69 Ohio St. 2d 460, 464, 432 N.E.2d 814, 817 (1982) (statutory regulations only act as “guides” in determining the reasonableness of a manufacturer’s design choice); see, e.g., Gable v. Gates Mills, 151 Ohio App. 3d 480, 491-92, 784 N.E.2d 739, 747-48 (2003), rev’d on other grounds, 103 Ohio St. 3d 449 (2004) (compliance with federal regulations on air bags is relevant evidence but “not conclusive of non-liability”); Hardiman v. Zep Mfg. Co., 14 Ohio App. 3d. 222, 226, 470 N.E.2d 941, 946 (1984) (compliance with Ohio “safe-place-to-work” statutes does not insulate a manufacturer from liability in strict liability cases).
 Welch Sand & Gravel Co, Inc. v. O & K Trojan, Inc., 107 Ohio App. 3d 218, 225, 668 N.E.2d 529, 534 (1995) (compliance with professional engineering standard does not conclusively defeat a design defect claim); Evanoff v. Grove Mfg. Co., 99 Ohio App. 3d 338, 346, 650 N.E.2d 914, 919 (1994) (non-compliance with industrial safety guidelines does not necessarily establish strict liability).
 Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2307.80(C)(1).
 Id. § 2307.80(C)(2).
The Ohio Supreme Court has held that evidence of prior accidents and occurrences may be admissible in product liability cases, where the accidents or occurrences transpire under circumstances that are substantially similar to those in the case at hand. Evidence of prior accidents and occurrences therefore may be admitted to establish the “nature and magnitude of the risks of harm associated with [a] design ” under the Act.
 Renfro v. Black, 52 Ohio St. 3d 27, 31-32, 556 N.E.2d 150, 154-55 (1990).
 Ogden v. Raymond Corp., No. 95CA0001, 1995 Ohio App. LEXIS 5796, at *7-8 (Dec. 27, 1995) (quoting §2307.75(B)(1).
 Blanton v. Int’l Minerals and Chem. Corp., 125 Ohio App. 3d 22, 30, 707 N.E.2d 960, 965-66 (1997).
 Onderko v. Rishmod Mfg. Co., 31 Ohio St. 3d 296, 301, 511 N.E.2d 388, 392 (1987); Mulloy v. Longaberger, Inc., 47 Ohio App. 3d 77, 81, 547 N.E.2d 411, 415-16 (1989).
AVAILABLE DAMAGES IN OHIO FOR PRODUCT LIABILITY LAWSUIT
There are no caps for compensatory damages that represent the economic loss of the plaintiff who is awarded damages under the Act.
Damages for non-economic loss “shall not exceed the greater of $250,000 or an amount that is equal to three times the economic loss, as determined by the trier of fact, of the plaintiff in that tort action to a maximum of $350,000 for each plaintiff in that tort action, or a maximum of $500,000 for each occurrence that is the basis of that tort action.
The cap on damages for non-economic loss does not apply if the plaintiff suffered “permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb, or loss of a bodily organ system” or “permanent physical functional injury that permanently prevents the injured person from being able to independently care for self and perform life-sustaining activities.”
An award for punitive and exemplary damages cannot exceed two times the amount of the compensatory damages awarded.
 Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §2307.71(B)
 Id. §2315.18(B)(2).
 Id. §§2315.18(B)(3)(a)-(b).
 Id. §2315.21(D(2)(a).
The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against companies due to a defective product or recalled product to obtain just compensation under the law.
The Firm has represented thousand of clients in product liability actions in all fifty states and in over 40 Multi District Litigations. See The Lyon Firm Results Page for additional settlements.
(Pikeville, Kentucky): Confidential Settlement for Plaintiff who suffered spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia due to defectively designed seat belt. Four passengers with three-point (lap/shoulder) belts walked away from the accident, and the only passenger wearing a two-point belt (lap only) suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury. The settlement assisted with home improvements to assist in daily living. GM entered federal bankruptcy during the process and no longer manufactures two-point lap belts for vehicles.
(Hillsboro, Ohio): Confidential Settlement for the family of elderly man who was catastrophically burned while operating a propane wall heater. The burns resulted in his unfortunate death. The heater, manufactured and sourced from China, was alleged to allow the flame to reach outside the grid area in violation of ANSI standards. The Defendant resolved the case following discovery and mediation. The recovered funds were paid to the victim’s surviving spouse and children. The company no longer manufactures this type of heater.