Product Liability Case Results

Defective Product/Propane Burn Injury – Two employees at a San Marcos manufacturing facility were severely burned during the refueling of a propane-fueled forklift. The mens’ employer contracted with a welding company to provide bulk amounts of propane for the forklifts. The welding company in turn subcontracted with a propane company to put a large bulk propane storage tank on the manufacturer’s property. The propane company placed the bulk-storage tank in a clearly unsafe location, in a poorly ventilated area far too close to several potential sources of ignition, including a water heater with an open flame. The propane company also failed to provide the company with the proper shutoff valve at the end of the filler hose. The valve failed to contain any mechanism to safely bleed or vent the remnant gas that normally is stuck between the small cylinder and the closed filler hose. During the routine re-fueling of a forklift, two of the manufacturer’s employees were injured when large amounts of propane were released, forming a cloud of the flammable gases around the area. The two men tried desperately to turn off the main valve at the base of the storage tank, but propane gas continued to leak from the smaller portable tank. Seconds later the propane ignited. There was a large flash fire, and both men were seriously burned. They were transferred via helicopter from the scene to the UCSD Medical Center Burn Unit where they remained hospitalized for several weeks. After intensive discovery uncovered multiple acts of negligence on the part of the defendants, the firm was able to obtain a $2,500,000.00 settlement on behalf of the two employees.

Tire Defect/Wrongful Death of Professional Athlete – On July 29, 2001, while traveling westbound on Interstate 10 through Indio, California, 21-year-old plaintiff, along with his 18-year-old best friend as passenger, experienced an unexpected catastrophic right-rear tire blow-out which caused the vehicle in which they were traveling to veer off the highway, rolling over numerous times. During the roll-over sequence, both young men were thrown from the vehicle and died. At the time of the incident, the 21-year-old plaintiff was one of the top pitching prospects in all of Major League Baseball. Berman & Walton, LLP, represented the parents of the 21-year-old professional athlete, filing suit against several defendants, including the installer of the tire, the manufacturer of the tire, and the distributors of the tire for the wrongful death of their son due to catastrophic tire failure. In addition to wrongful death damages, Attorney William Berman claimed the parents were entitled to compensatory damages under a Loss of Contribution theory of recovery. In support of this difficult and seldom-advanced claim, Mr. Berman relied upon the testimony of several respected baseball executives, including renowned Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane, to support the contention that the deceased athlete had a substantial likelihood of advancing to, and having a successful career at, the major league level. The case settled after two full days of mediation with defendants agreeing to pay decedent’s parents a total of $6,842,857.10 in resolution of their claims.

Products Liability/Burn Injury – A 36-year-old man suffered third-degree burns to portions of his right and left arms after a chemical explosion in a San Diego commercial building. The explosion occurred when vapors ignited while the man was removing a new flooring epoxy he had recently applied, but which had failed to harden. The firm was able to establish that the manufacturer of the epoxy mislabeled the epoxy containers. Due to this mislabeling, the epoxy contained no catalyst, and would not harden. This created a dangerous condition which led to the explosion. Through litigation, the firm was able to secure a settlement for plaintiff and his wife in the amount of $225,000.00.

Products Liability/Premises Liability – A 24-year-old businessman from outside San Diego was staying at a hotel during a local convention. He suffered third-degree chemical burns to his legs and groin area minutes after entering the hotel’s spa, causing him pain and severe discomfort for several weeks. Because there was nothing the doctors could do other than prescribe a topical lotion, total medical bills in the case were less than $225.00. Through litigation, the firm was able to demonstrate that the spa had been poorly maintained by the hotel and its maintenance company. The case resolved shortly before trial with a settlement of $45,000.00.

Products Liability/Premises Liability – A 94-year-old shopper sustained severe injuries in a San Diego department store when she fell while using an escalator. the firm learned the city had recently issued a “red-tag” on the escalator, and had ordered that the escalator be removed from service. In addition, it was learned that three weeks prior to the incident, the city cited the department store for nine safety violations related to the escalator. Despite this history, the department store and its elevator service company failed to correct the problems and knowingly placed the defective escalator back into service. The case was settled at a mediation for $275,000.00.

Disclaimer: Case results as reported above were derived based upon facts and circumstances specific to each separately reported case and publication of such case results is for informational purposes only and by no means is intended to constitute any representation or guarantee of a similar result for your prospective case.