Any company can become an involved party in a product liability lawsuit. There are, however, some industries that are more likely than others to find themselves in court or in legal arbitration because their products do not often meet their stated expectations.
Medical products are one such industry that is more likely to encounter product liability lawsuits. Medical products are typically some of the most innovative products; however their effectiveness is only truly tested once released to the public. Because of the nature of these types of products, as well as their widespread usage, lawsuits are sometimes massive in their scope.
In 2010, a product liability lawsuit was filed against the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The lawsuit involved Prempro, a hormone replacement therapy drug. The plaintiff contended that Pfizer marketed Prempro despite being aware of the increased risk of breast cancer in women. Jurors awarded the victim in this case $10.4 million in damages.
Industrial and construction products are within another industry prone to liability lawsuits. As with medical products, when industrial and construction products fail to perform as expected, the manufacturers may become the subject of lawsuits.
A recent, and ongoing, case relating to construction and industrial product liability involves hundreds of thousands of individual homeowners who are suing large building companies and construction material suppliers for moisture and chemical problems, alleging that the builders and suppliers used low grade, defective drywall manufactured in China.
Perhaps the most well-known types of product liability lawsuits are those that deal with consumer products. Rather than being linked to any specific industry, these lawsuits focus on the manufacturers of consumer goods.
In March, a $4.5 million settlement was reached in a consumer product liability lawsuit relating to a hair-strengthening product, known as ‘Brazilian Blowout’. This product came under investigation by the California Attorney General’s office after complaints from stylists that it was causing nosebleeds, breathing problems and eye irritation. When the product is heated, as the directions instruct, the product emits formaldehyde gas. The settlement of this lawsuit was structured in such a way that the manufacture can still sell the product to salons, however they have to market it “appropriately” and inform the public of what they are buying. The original product was labeled formaldehyde-free.