Articles Posted in Products Liability

More manufacturing defects with replacements airbags, giving rise to products liability claims, have required an automotive replacement parts corporation to issue yet another recall, affecting as many as 230,000 vehicles. The vehicles affected by BMW AG’s most recent recall had replacement airbags manufactured by Petri, a German company owned by Takata Corp., installed after a crash. The inflators used, called the Takata PSDI-4 inflators, can explode in a crash—even one at low speed—and spray those occupying the vehicle with metal shards. These regulators are filled with ammonium nitrate, an explosive chemical with power similar to dynamite. If the chemical degrades over time, the airbags can deploy with so much force that the metal casings are destroyed, sending the metal shards into the unsuspecting vehicle occupants. Around 14,600 of these inflators were shipped to the U.S. between 2002 and 2015 for replacement use. This recall is one of the largest recalls in motor vehicle history, due in part to the 17 deaths these vehicles have caused worldwide and brought to the forefront by products liability lawyers. In the U.S. alone, these airbags have been linked to 11 deaths and 180 injures. Several vehicle drivers and passengers have sued Takata claiming injuries from the metal shrapnel. The Center for Auto Safety’s executive director, Michael Brooks, has said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) should investigate whether these airbags were used by other vehicle manufacturers. This is needed, as the airbags may have been used by a dozen or more car manufacturers, including Honda, GM, and Volkswagen. BMW already has vehicles with defective airbags under recall, bringing the total to over 1.5 million cars. The car models affected by this most recent recall are some 2001-2002 X5 SUVs, 2000-2002 3 Series, and 2001-2005 5 Series models.

Takata Corp. has also recently entered into an agreement to plead guilty in an investigation by the DOJ concerning the exploding airbags. This settlement comes with a $1 billion payment. Of the $1 billion payment, $25 million will go to the U.S. and $975 million will be paid as restitution to carmakers and those injured by the airbags. Specifically, Takata’s settlement means it will admit to misleading industry regulators, car manufacturers, and ultimately the consumers about the safety of the replacement airbags. This settlement also means Takata will be independently monitored for compliance for the next three years. The recall tied to the airbags has already plagued the corporation and is expected to surpass 100 million. Just two years ago, the corporation signed an agreement to pay a $70 million fine to U.S. regulators because of selective, inaccurate, and incomplete information provided concerning the airbag regulators. The NHTSA has said that this fine could rise to $200 million if the corporation does not finish the recalls within three years. This process will be long and arduous for Takata, as there are approximately 46 million recalled airbag inflators in 29 million vehicles in the U.S. alone. This number could rise over the next three years, affecting as many as 42 million consumer vehicles and 69 million inflators.

Volkswagen is experiencing similar recall problems, issuing a recall affecting hundreds of thousands of Audi models. These recalls stem from two airbag defects and overheating coolant pumps. One of the airbag recalls affects approximately 234,054 Audi Q5 models from 2011 to 2017. This recall stems from a sunroof drainage issue which can corrode the airbag’s inflator canister causing it to rupture and spray the vehicle occupants with metal shards. The second airbag recall affects 5,901 Audi and Volkswagen cars from 2017 and 2018 Audi A4, A6, A7, Volkswagen Golf, e-Golf, and Tiguan models. These airbags may not deploy properly. These models may also experience issues with the seat-belt pretensioners, the device designed to pull a seat belt tight in a crash, not working properly.

On July 8, 2009 Hyundai Elantra, was involved in a low-speed collision in Newfoundland, Canada, spurring investigations into air bag inflators made by ARC Automotive, a Tennessee-based company.  Canadian officials contend that the driver would have likely survived had the ARC-manufactured airbag inflator not ruptured and sent shrapnel flying through the passenger compartment. This incident, the latest of several, lead both Canadian and American auto safety regulators to investigate ARC inflators, which are installed in roughly 8 million cars in the United States alone.  The products are mostly found in older cars made by General Motors, Fiat, Chrysler, Hyundai, and Kia.

This incident underscores the importance of a probe already underway by the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That investigation began in July 2015 after the agency received reports that an Ohio woman was seriously injured in a 2009 accident where her 2002 Chrysler Town & Country minivan crashed, rupturing its inflator. The injured woman’s husband complained in writing to NHTSA, informing the agency that his wife was hurt by shrapnel when the air bag deployed following a collision with a snowmobile. “Most of the shrapnel went into her chest, with the air bag plate breaking apart, striking her in the chin, breaking her jaw in three places,” her husband wrote.

The NHTSA also found  a similar injury involving someone in a 2004 Kia Optima. In both cases, the inflators were manufactured in ARC’s factory in Knoxville, TN.

Several major oil companies, including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell Oil, were recently named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in Gretna, La.  Hiemie Payne filed suit in the 24th Judicial District Court, alleging failure to inform the plaintiff of danger, failure to mark an area as dangerous, and overall negligence and carelessness.

The complaint states that Payne was an employee of Commercial Pipeline Services for three years during the 1980s.  During that time, he fulfilled a number of duties for the named companies, and was allegedly exposed to dangerously high levels of radioactive scale from products manufactured by the defendants.  Also, Payne claims that he was further injured due to the exposure to radiation in the form of aerosolized dust.

Suits of this nature pose a unique challenge, as plaintiffs must prove specifically which defendant caused him injury at what time in order to get a satisfactory verdict.  It is made that much more difficult that it took place three decades ago. The attorneys at Broussard & David have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle cases of this nature and will fight to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of the fault of another, contact the attorneys at Broussard & David to discuss your legal rights at (337) 233-2323 (local) or (888) 337-2323 (toll-free).

After a routine mosquito abatement flight, an airplane crash that left two dead will likely lead to changes at a Slidell airport.

Wayne Fisher, 68, and Donald Pechon, 59, were found dead after another pilot reported seeing a spark of electricity from high-power transmission lines near the Slidell Municipal Airport followed by a plume of flame just north of a runway.  The pilots collided with the transmission towers, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.  The report notes that it was a calm, clear night at the time of the crash, with visibility at 10 miles.  According to Airport manager Richard Artigue, both men were experienced pilots and Fisher was a reserved deputy with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and flew helicopters in that capacity.

The primary factor in the crash, appears to be the location of the towers in relation to the airport.  Even though the towers conform to Federal Aviation Administration regulations, Artigue reported that local officials have long recognized the potential safety hazard.   While the only other fatal crash at Slidell Municipal Airport occurred in 1974, the April 19 crash has compelled officials to address the relocation of the transmission lines. As Artigue noted, the airport is used by far less experienced pilots than Fisher and Pechon and is heavily utilized for student pilot training.

An Oklahoma woman has filed suit against Rolls-Royce over the death of her husband, alleging that the engine of the helicopter he was piloting was defective and caused the fatal crash.

Collen Ricks of Grady County, Oklahoma, along with her two minor children, sued the Rolls-Royce Corporation on March 30 in the United States Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  The complaint alleged that the defendant aircraft engine provider defectively designed and/or manufactured turbine systems that would develop cracks in the exhaust system.

According to the suit,  Brandon Ricks was piloting a Model 206 L-1 Bell Helicopter on a public use flight near Saucier, Mississippi pursuant to a contract with the U.S. Forest Service.  At some point during this flight, the helicopter suddenly lost power, causing the fatal crash in question.

On March 29, suit was filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana by Kathryn Swanson, both individually and as special administrator of Denis I. Swanson, her late husband.  Swanson has alleged breach of duty and negligence on the part of McDermott International Inc. and McDermott Inc., claiming that they are at fault for the death of her husband.

According to the suit, Denis Swanson work on derrick barges owned by the defendants and was under their employ for approximately twenty years, from 1977 to 1997.  The suit posits that it was during this time that Swanson was exposed to asbestos, suffering personal injuries and eventually death due to the negligence of the defendants and the unseaworthiness of their vessels.

The complaint states that the defendants failed to maintain their vessels and equipment in a safe and reasonable condition, failed to warn of the dangers of asbestos exposure, failed to provide safe and proper protective equipment, and failed to design, construct, repair, and maintain their vessels in a safe manner.

Anthony Buffinet was aboard the Cry Baby, the fishing vessel Cry Baby, when it was struck by another vessel, according to the suit filed by Buffinet on March 29 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Purportedly, on March 25, 2013, the Cry Baby, owned and operated by Buffinet, was moored at dock in Leeville when it was struck by the DMO Resolve, owned and operated by Dale Martin Offshore LLC.  Buffinet’s suit names Dale Martin Offshore LLC as the defendant, asserting that the fault of the matter is their’s as they failed to maintain proper course and speed, failed to take preventative measures in averting the collision, and negligently operated their vessel.

In addition to damaging the Cry Baby, Buffinet himself was allegedly injured to such a degree that he has been unable to perform his usual duties and has been rendered disabled.  Additionally, he has suffered financial loss and mental pain.

Sometimes, it is the smallest things that leave the largest impact.  On or about March 14, 2014, Brent Little was an employee of Halliburton Energy Services Inc. and serving on the Liftboat Vanessa in the Gulf of Mexico.  It was at this time that a prank was allegedly played on Little.  John Barrow, a fellow crewman, allegedly slipped red tracer dye into Little’s boot.  According to reports, Little wore the tampered boot for 14 hours that day and, upon removing the boots, heard laughter and noticed pink footprints on the floor.  The die stained Little’s foot for three weeks and it was at this time that Little was informed that red tracer dye was a carcinogen.

Flash forward more than a year to May 16, 2015, when Little was involved in an automobile accident, the fallout of which required him to take a CT scan.  According to Little, the scan revealed he had thyroid cancer, forcing him to undergo a thyroidectomy and the removal of lymph nodes.

Little filed suit on March 14 of this year in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against Halliburton and John Barrow, citing negligence.  After the initial incident, Halliburton launched an investigation and found John Barrow responsible for the prank.  One such reason for Little suing Halliburton in addition to Barrow is likely that the jar of red tracer dye in question was under the care and custody of Halliburton, yet it was stored in the crew’s living quarters and had no label or warning signs that identified it as hazardous.

Several corporations and other defendants have been taken to court by a New Orleans woman who claims to have developed ovarian cancer after using defendants’ products.

Paula Jackson filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana New Orleans Division on March 16, naming Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies Inc., Luzenac America Inc., Rio Tinto Minerals Inc., John Does/Jane Does 1-30, and other businesses and/or corporations, whose identities and involvement are as of yet unknown, as defendants.  The Doe defendants are representatives of the corporations whose conduct allegedly caused or contributed to the damages of the plaintiff.

The issues of this case primarily revolve around products containing talc, which defendants Johnson manufactured and defendants Luzenac and Rio have continually marketed as safe for human use.  From about 1974 to 2015, Jackson applied defendants’ products to her groin for feminine hygiene purposes, which is a foreseeable use of such products based on their advertising according to the suit.  On September 27, 2015, Jackson was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 62.  Prior to this diagnosis, she allegedly did not have any of the risk factors normally associated with such a disease.

A veteran of both the New Orleans Police Department and the Vietnam War is suing 3M Co. due to an alleged defect in its Bair Hugger Blanket Device that lead to the amputation of his leg.

Lee Edward Peyton filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on March 4 against 3M Co. and Arizant Healthcare Inc., alleging breach of express warranty, design defect, and liability under the Louisiana Products Liability Act.

According to the suit, Peyton underwent total knee joint replacement surgery in his left knee at Omega Hospital in Jefferson Parish.  During the surgery, a Bair Hugger blanket was used keep Peyton warm.  The device utilizes a portable heater/blower connected by a flexible hose to a disposable blanket that is placed on or under a patient to keep them warm by blowing hot air through the tube and blanket onto the patient.