The successful attorney-chemical expert “dyad” is, in my opinion, critically dependent on creating a trusting, workable, two-way communication. The expert must be able to educate the attorney in the complexities of the subject case, so that the attorney is comfortable in mediation or court procedures.
Every year, there are approximately 6000 fatalities (6227 in the year 2018) and many more serious injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists from vehicles in the USA. More recent data1 show that these numbers have increased by 45% since 2009. These trends have varied over the years but injuries and fatalities to pedestrians and cyclists from automobiles remain a serious issue.
Several dangers involving the use of a hot tub (spa) may readily come to mind, such as the risk of shock or electrocution, or the risk of drowning for unsupervised young children. Not so readily apparent is the effect of overheating the human body, or "hyperthermia".
I have been wandering around the aerosol industry for the last 35+ years both as an employee of major CPG companies, and, for the past 15 years as an independent aerosol technical consultant. While the attention to safety issues has dramatically improved over time, I am still amazed how often the simplest safety precautions are sometimes overlooked when filling aerosols with flammable propellants. I'll save my horror stories for another time, except for one particularly relevant example at the end of this article.
In the United States, the most litigious country in the world, a products liability action may be brought, under state law, for express or implied breach of warranty, misrepresentation and negligence. Under the theory of strict liability, a lawsuit may be initiated on the grounds of manufacturing and design defects as well as poor and inadequate warning instructions. The best defensive strategy for a company to avoid becoming involved in any of the above is to manufacture the safest product possible within parameters of economic feasibility. If said manufacturer can vouch for safety factors in the design, production, testing, inspection and evaluation of its product as well as attentiveness to consumer complaints, it will be more likely to avoid litigation or at least be able to prevail in the courtroom.
No one likes to see children get hurt, especially when it could be prevented. Poor design, manufacturing defects, material defects, assembly errors, and the lack of a hazard analysis can result in hazardous products that injure people. Many products are put in stores that may have never been looked at by a design engineer and/or a safety specialist.
Last month's issue of the Goldhaber Warnings Report focused on the dangers of added sugar to many products sold in the U.S. But sugar, while a major culprit in the causal chain leading to a variety of serious illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes and other cardio-vascular diseases and certain cancers, is not the only food product that may need a safety warning. Let's look at a few potential examples of products that might benefit from a safety warning.
If you buy a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese in the UK (the same Mac & Cheese that is sold in the U.S.), the following warning label appears on the package: Warning: This Product May Cause Adverse Effects Activity AndAttention in Children. This warning is required because the U.S. version of Kraft Mac & Cheese has artificial food dyes yellow #5 and yellow #6, which are proven to be linked to hyperactivity in children. The warning does NOT appear in the U.S.
Product Liability Reform has affected many attorneys, consumers, and experts negatively while failing in its goal of greater American competitiveness. This issue of Forensic Clues is dedicated to addressing the problems of tort reform, how this affects you, and what you as an attorney can do to reduce your costs and increase your chances of a successful product liability case, assuming that the case involves a legitimate product defect.