From Romaine Lettuce to Turkey: What You Need to Know About Product Defect Claims
With the recent recalls of Romaine lettuce and Jennie-O Turkeys as a result of salmonella and E. coli there are lots of questions swirling around. The second question after, “Did I buy some romaine lettuce or turkey lately?” is more than likely what to do next if you have purchased and ingested these foods. One course of action would be to file a product defect claim. Now you might be thinking how a product defect claim about food would work. Here is what you need to know about product defect claims.
Information required to address liability varies by state. In Texas however, product liability is a strict liability offense. In short, negligence does not matter. If there is a defect in the product and the product led to harm the defendant is liable. As long as you have the following elements to prove the product led to harm liability is proven:
- You were injured or suffered losses
- The product is defective
- The defect caused your injury
- You were using the product as it was intended
Looking at the recent food recalls, if you purchased romaine lettuce or a Jennie-O turkey and ended up becoming ill and the illness resulted in a hospital stay or worse, whoever distributed the romaine lettuce or Jennie-O would be held liable for your injury or losses.
Types of Defective Product Liability Claims
There are 3 kinds of defective liability claims: defective manufacture, defective design, or failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions concerning the proper use of the product. It’s important to understand which claim fits your situation best so you can develop a proper strategy to use in presenting your case.
Defectively Manufactured Products
A defectively manufactured product is a product which was made incorrectly due to an error in its creation. This usually happens as a result of a problem at the factory where it was made. The defective product makes it past inspection and is distributed for someone to purchase.
Examples of a manufacturing defect include:
- a swing set with a cracked chain
- a tainted batch of cough syrup containing a poisonous substance, or
- a moped missing its brake pads.
In each case, the injury must have been caused by the manufacturing defect. Looking to the food recall incidents, the romaine lettuce and the turkey had defects before going out thus making these foods defectively manufactured products.
Defectively Designed Products
Defectively designed products are an interesting product claim as the product’s design is dangerous or defective. Basically, the claim says that despite the product being made perfectly they are determined to be dangerous regardless of if an injury ever actually occurred.
Examples of a design defect include:
- a particular model of car that has a tendency to flip over while turning a corner
- a type of sunglasses that fail to protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays, or
- a line of electric blankets that can electrocute the user when turned on high.
A defectively designed product claim wouldn’t necessarily be for romaine lettuce or Jenny-O turkeys, but it could be used for cooking sprays, gas grills, and food processors. These products are seen as defectively designed because they can be a fire or burn hazard.
Failure to Provide Adequate Warnings or Instructions
The third and final type of product liability claim is a failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the product’s proper use. These claims commonly involve a product that poses a danger in a way that isn’t obvious to the user or requires the user to take special precautions when using it.
Examples of a failure-to-warn claim include:
- an electric tea kettle that is packaged without sufficient warning concerning its oddly positioned steam valve
- a cough syrup that does not include on its label a warning that it may cause dangerous side effects if taken in combination with another commonly taken drug such as aspirin, or
- a corrosive paint-removing chemical that is sold without adequate instructions for safe handling and use.
Much like the defectively designed products this isn’t a claim that would apply to romaine lettuce and the Jenny-O turkeys unless you want to read a label warning of potential salmonella and E. Coli outbreak. However, it can still be used for food products such as tea kettles or a food processor.
Statutes of Limitations: Filing a Defective Product Liability Claim
Time limits for product liability claims vary by state, but keep in mind no state has a statute of limitations for defective product claims less than a year. Texas gives you 2 years to file a defective product liability claim but there are some states which offer 3 and 4 years.
The time limit starts to “run” the moment an injury has occurred. If you have consumed romaine lettuce and got really sick and wound up in the hospital you have from the day you experienced symptoms to file a claim. Sometimes things aren’t so black and white.
For example, signs of infection with E. coli don’t show up in adults until about 3 or 4 days and typically cause mild symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramping, or nausea. Meanwhile, children and the elderly are at risk of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome or a life-threatening form of kidney failure. These kinds of complications can make it difficult to file a proper claim initially, but it’s important to remember to file sooner rather than later.
Let Rad Law Firm Help You File Your Claim
At Rad Law Firm we are committed to you. Our “Clients First” approach is a philosophy that focuses on providing the highest quality service tailored to our individual clients’ needs in the most cost-efficient way. Our lawyers recognize successful prosecution of a claim requires immediate action and will work quickly to investigate your claim.
Our experience regarding product liability claims extends to car defects, dangerous toys and children’s products, food and tobacco, surgical implant defects, and much more. We have an in-house litigation team composed of experienced, fearless, and loyal attorneys that will fight for your rights.
Our offices are conveniently located in Beverly Hills, CA as well as Austin, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Brownsville, TX and we are available to talk today for free.