Articles Posted in Product Liability

Newborn-gentle-300x200Neocate baby formula is designed for children with difficulty digesting common proteins for a host of reasons, including serious illness. Where traditional baby formula contains long, complex proteins, “elemental formulas” are comprised of amino acids—the building blocks of larger proteins—which are more readily digestible. Despite being an effective product to deliver protein, it does not provide the amount of phosphorus necessary for healthy bone development, ultimately leading to bone fractures and the skeletal disorder rickets. Since Neocate is a “product” for the purposes of an action in tort, strict liability attaches and those injured need only demonstrate that the product was defectively designed.

Nutricia, a subsidiary of Groupe Danone, manufactures Neocate, which is one of the most popular elemental formulas on the market. As with traditional baby formula, Neocate is designed to be “whole nutrition,” i.e., the manufacturer’s intent is for the Neocate to be the only nutrition consumed by the child. Consequently, Nutricia had the duty to ensure that the product was properly formulated to provide all necessary nutrients.

Neocate was popular and widely prescribed, as it proved effective in providing nutrition to sick infants and children. However, in 2015, physicians began to notice high instances of broken bones and rickets associated with Neocate. Rickets is a condition where children develop soft or brittle bones, sometimes caused by a severe phosphorus deficiency. Nutricia was made aware of the problem no later than October of 2015 but did not begin researching phosphorus deficiency—hypophosphatemia—in relationship to Neocate until 2016. When it undertook this research, the company instructed physicians prescribing Neocate to monitor each patient’s blood phosphorus level.

hospital bed

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A catheter is a medical device, essentially a tube, used in a wide range of medical procedures.

Certain catheters are designed to access veins and arteries. Vascular catheterization allows a physician to perform certain diagnostics that are otherwise impossible, such as sampling blood directly from the heart; measuring blood flow in the heart’s chambers; or evaluating blockages or abnormalities in the blood vessels outside the heart, such as the arms and legs.

hoverboard

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As a general matter, companies are responsible for the safety of products that they make, sell, market, and distribute. When a product is unreasonably dangerous or defective in any way, each of these parties can typically be held liable for any injuries caused by the product. However, Michigan product liability law is vast, and many cases arise in a legal gray area.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently heard one such case involving a purchase on Amazon.com. In that case, a family purchased a hoverboard for their son from Amazon. It was undisputed that Amazon did not own the hoverboard, and that a third party listed the item for sale on Amazon’s website. However, the item was shipped in an Amazon box from a warehouse owned by Amazon, and the plaintiffs believed that they had purchased the hoverboard from Amazon.

courtroom

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In a recent Michigan slip-and-fall case, a state appellate court considered whether a plaintiff’s amended complaint adding a nonparty at fault relates back to the original filing. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s amended complaint did relate back to the original filing date of the complaint. Thus, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the plaintiff’s case was time-barred.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff purchased a new refrigerator at Best Buy. Evidently, the plaintiff’s new refrigerator unexpectedly sprayed water out of its dispenser onto the floor, causing the plaintiff to slip and fall. The plaintiff filed a claim against Best Buy, which sold and installed the plaintiff’s fridge, alleging negligence, breach of warranty, and breach of contract. Best Buy filed a notice identifying Samsung as a nonparty at fault, as the fridge’s manufacturer. Essentially, Best Buy was claiming that Samsung should be a party to the lawsuit because Samsung was likely at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff then amended her complaint, adding a claim against Samsung.

The Michigan Supreme Court recently clarified the standards for product liability. The Supreme Court overturned a case from the Michigan Court of Appeals that used the wrong standard to decide whether a case should go forward on a motion for summary judgment. In this case, the court held that a manufacturer is only liable for harm from misuse in a products liability case if the misuse was reasonably foreseeable. If you are injured by a product or machine, you should contact a knowledgeable Michigan product liability attorney to help you get any damages that you are entitled to from a defective product.

Current Case

Here, a man was injured while using a press machine manufactured by Dieffenbacher North America, Inc. He climbed partially inside the 500-ton machine without setting it on manual mode when he became trapped after the machine started its automatic cycle. He was seriously injured and sustained fractures in his back, as well as severe burns. He sued Dieffenbacher under a theory of product liability.

The Michigan Appeals Court recently affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary disposition to a defendant in a Michigan boating accident case. Specifically, the appeals court held that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact regarding defective design and failure to warn.The plaintiff was injured while pontoon boating in June 2013. Before the accident, her husband purchased a boat hoist and a canopy frame manufactured and sold by defendant NuCraft. He also purchased a vinyl canopy from the defendant. He testified that, at some point before the night of the accident, he spoke with NuCraft’s vice president about how to best install the canopy. He planned to use the hoist and the canopy assembly for a boat that he kept at his mother’s cottage on Lake Margrethe.

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