Over the years, lawsuits against large corporations have become increasingly commonplace. Although some people might argue that this is simply due to a culture of suing the living breath out of everyone, serious injuries do occur because of negligent corporations or manufacturers.
To better understand the importance of holding corporations accountable for their actions, here are four of the most horrific product liability cases in the United States.
1. Liebeck v. McDonald’s: The Hot Coffee Case
Perhaps the most popular product liability case in recent history is the infamous hot coffee case. This is because it became one of the biggest stories on most large news channels. The case involved an elderly woman receiving her coffee from McDonald’s only to accidentally spill it on her and burn herself so severely that she had to be rushed to a nearby emergency room.
The lawsuit was automatically labeled as a “frivolous” case because the woman and her family were reportedly simply looking for a big payday. However, this was later discovered to be a well-coordinated smear campaign to turn the public against the elderly woman.
The reality was that the coffee that 79-year-old Stella Liebeck spilled on her lap was 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit, 30 degrees hotter than what other restaurants were serving it. As a result, McDonald’s was forced to pay $160,000 for medical expenses and $2.7 million in punitive damages.
2. The 2010 Toyota Recall
After a series of fatal accidents involving Toyota vehicles, the company was finally forced to come forward and issue a recall on millions of vehicles. They stated that they had found severe issues with the brakes and accelerator pedals, leading to the cars accelerating by themselves to speeds of up to 100 mph.
Because of multiple deaths, damages, and costs of recalling millions of vehicles, Toyota Motors ended up settling and agreeing to pay an incredible $1.1 billion.
3. Owens Corning Asbestos Lawsuits
Between the years of 1958 and 1972, Owens Corning, a building supplies company, continually sold millions of dollars’ worth of building materials that contained asbestos. Although this was not an issue due to the lack of understanding behind the dangers of being around asbestos, the company failed to place warnings when the risks did come to light.
This caused severe health issues to thousands of people who worked and lived with this type of material around them. In 1998, Corning Owens finally settled over 176,000 cases and was ordered to pay $1.2 billion.
4. Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuit
When new medical treatments are introduced into the market, there is always a risk of side effects appearing. But in many cases, individuals cannot file a lawsuit against the manufacturers because the products have gone through all the research and testing demanded by the government and thus deemed safe.
However, in the case of the original transvaginal mesh models, this was not the base. Transvaginal mesh is a medical device created to help women in supporting weakened organs and repair damaged tissue in the pelvic area.
It was later found that the early models caused more harm than good. Women began to report that the medical implant was actually causing vaginal scarring, fistula formation, and debilitating pain. Over 100,000 lawsuits were brought to the courts, and the company was forced to pay a whopping $1.5 billion. In such cases, it is advised to seek the professional help of a personal injury lawyer in New York.
Although corporations are taking steps to correct how they operate their business, these types of lawsuits still provide a glimpse into a world where money is often placed in front of public safety.
Countless people were left scarred and maimed for life by defective products that had had all the regulatory approvals at the time. The truth only came to life when those people brought their cases to courts and won. There may be many other stories about horrific injuries caused by “safe” products, but how many stories are there only time can tell.
About Wilma Williams
Wilma Wiliams is a law school graduate and a part-time freelance blogger, focused on various legal topics such as personal injury, and bankruptcy.
She is passionate about educating the public on fighting for their rights, which is why she is currently collaborating with Ask LLP: Lawyers for Justice, whilst actively sharing a part of her experience as a former lawyer.