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Product Liability

Walsworth’s product liability team has built an impressive track record of successfully defending a wide variety of clients, including manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, national retailers and installers in product liability lawsuits. We defend clients’ products against negligence claims, strict liability claims alleging manufacturing defects, design defects and failure to warn, as well as the often included claims of unfair business practices, advertising claims, consumer fraud claims and the like. In addition to run-of-the-mill personal injury and property damage claims, we have defended up to and through trial numerous claims of catastrophic injury and death.

Below is a representative sample of products with which we have extensive litigation experience:

  • Abrasive Products
  • Alarms
  • Forest and Garden Products
  • Golf Carts and Utility Vehicles
  • Asbestos-Containing Products
  • Home Appliances
  • Automobile Parts and Accessories
  • Bottles and Bottle Caps
  • Industrial Machinery
  • Manufactured Homes
  • Carpet
  • Metals
  • Chemical Solvents and Products
  • Outdoor Power Products
  • Children’s Toys
  • Paper Products
  • Proposition 65
  • Coatings and Waterproofing Materials
  • Petroleum-based Products
  • Commercial and Residential Building Materials
  • Pharmaceuticals and Dietary Supplements
  • Commercial Food Service Products
  • Power Plant Equipment Components
  • Computer Components
  • Sealants
  • Film/Television Backdrops
  • Food Products
  • Silica-containing Products
  • Tools
  • Personal Healthcare Products

Many of the product liability cases we handle have been brought as class actions or involve multiple plaintiffs that can be coordinated as mass actions. For class-action litigation, many of our attorneys have years of experience defending against and defeating class allegations prior to and after certification. We often act as national coordinating counsel for our clients where claims have been filed in multiple jurisdictions.

Vigorous Defense of Clients

We take pride in immersing ourselves in our clients’ businesses to fully comprehend the design, manufacturing and quality control processes that are used to create and bring these products to market. In every case, we seek to assess risk at an early stage and communicate regularly with our clients to develop strategies in order to achieve the best possible outcome. In cases with no liability or questionable liability, we have obtained numerous summary judgments and favorable defense verdicts at trial.

Representative Successes

  • Goodwin v. Ingersoll-Rand Company – Obtained a defense verdict after a six-day jury trial in a wrongful death case where the decedent was riding on the defendant’s golf car and fell, sustaining fatal injuries. Decedent’s spouse and children claimed that our client failed to provide adequate warnings regarding the use of the car and defectively designed the braking system. Plaintiffs’ expert was Reuben Vollmer, a well-known expert witness on vehicle accidents who has testified in a number of golf cart cases.
  • Graham v. Club Car – Secured a defense verdict in favor of a utility vehicle manufacturer in a personal injury and strict products liability case.
  • Carter v. GP Resources – Secured a defense verdict for a petroleum supplier after a 10-day jury trial in an action arising out of the plaintiff’s exposure to the client’s product. Plaintiff claimed permanent injuries that prevented work.
  • City of Modesto Redevelopment Agency, et al. v. Various Defendants – Obtained a defense verdict for a commercial laundry and dry cleaner in the jury phase of a four-month groundwater contamination trial. Our client and one dry cleaning product distributor were the only defendants to receive defense verdicts. The jury found other defendants—the chemical solvent and equipment manufacturers—liable for a defective products. Additionally, the jury found malice against two of the chemical manufacturers and one of the equipment manufacturers, eventually awarding verdicts in excess of $178 million against them.
  • Sarkisyants v. Various Defendants – Motion for summary judgment granted in favor of a medical product distributor in personal injury product liability action.
  • Plaintiff vs. Yo-Yo Manufacturer – Represented an overseas manufacturer and exporter of toys and games in a case where a 2-year-old was injured when a wire in the client’s electronic yo-yo allegedly pierced the plaintiff’s eye while he was playing with it. Following deposition of the child’s 6-year-old brother, who was the only witness to the incident, a dismissal was obtained based on misidentification of the yo-yo and improper use.
  • Plaintiff vs. Swimming Pool Alarm Manufacturer – Represented the manufacturer and multi-national retailer of a swimming pool alarm in a Los Angeles case where plaintiff, a prominent Beverly Hills attorney, claimed the alarm malfunctioned during assembly and sounded in his ear, causing substantial hearing loss. We disputed causation based on testing of the unit and through testimony of medical witnesses and resolved the case shortly before trial for a fraction of the demand.
  • Plaintiff vs. Panel Saw Manufacturer – Represented an Italian manufacturer of an industrial saw in a case where plaintiff suffered amputation of a pinky finger at work as a result of the allegedly defective design of the saw. Following extensive internal company investigation and expert discovery, the claim was resolved shortly in advance of trial for less than two percent of the claimed damages and 10 percent of the settlement demand.
  • Plaintiff vs. Computer Monitor Manufacturer – Represented a computer monitor manufacturer in a pre-litigation claim where plaintiff alleged that a fire that caused substantial damage to property was a result of a defect in the client’s product. We worked closely with an expert to conduct inspection and testing of the monitor and were successful in concluding that the source of the fire must have been external and not related to the client’s product.
  • Gonzalez v. Various Defendants – Dismissal of a drug manufacturer in a personal injury product liability action at the outset of case in response to a planned filing of a demurrer.
  • Cummings v. Various Defendants – Non-suit granted for defendant in an asbestos-related lung cancer case of a 67-year old former smoker. Plaintiff claimed to have been present during repairs to equipment manufactured by our client. At the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case in chief, the court found that the plaintiff failed to present any evidence that would satisfy his burden to show that our client’s product was a substantial factor in causing his alleged disease.
  • Sacoy v. Rust-Oleum – Summary judgment granted in favor of a leading manufacturer of specialty paints and coatings involving allegations of suffering a catastrophic brain injury resulting from a ladder fall. Client prevailed on failure to warn claim regarding its product due to preemption and since the plaintiff did not rely on the client’s warnings.
  • Hensel Phelps v. Tremco – Summary judgment granted for the product manufacturer in a complex construction case where plaintiff alleged defects in a high rise condominium building.