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Product Liability

Taking on the country’s largest manufacturers requires superior legal skills and technical knowledge. Our attorneys are ready for the challenge, relying on their decades of experience in product liability cases.

The history of product liability in Washington is complicated and convoluted. However, in 1981, the Washington legislature passed the Washington Products Liability Act, which created a comprehensive set of laws dealing with product liability claims. The effect of the WPLA was to shift the focus from the conduct of the manufacturer to the reasonable safety of the product in order to more adequately protect the consumer.

Our attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in each of the several types of product liability cases. The first type of product liability is a duty to warn. Manufacturers have a duty to warn against potential harms resulting from the use of their products. An example would include the requirement that cleaning solution contain a warning that it should not be ingested orally, which is not only reasonably foreseeable, but could result in serious danger to the consumer.  

Next, our attorneys have successfully represented numerous clients in manufacturing defect claims. Manufacturing defects occur when a product deviates in a material way from the design specifications and other identical units. These products are “flukes” in the system, and simply find their way into the stream of commerce containing a defect that deviates from the design specifications intended by the manufacturer.    

Manufacturers may also be liable for defects discovered after the manufacture and sale of a product. When a manufacturer learns, or should have learned, about a danger posed by their product after it has been manufactured, they have a duty to issue adequate warnings to consumers. The most common example of this type of product liability is failing to issue a product recall.

Finally, our attorneys have helped consumers hold manufacturers responsible for injuries and deaths caused by the defective designs of products including cars, trucks, cranes, pharmaceutical drugs, motorcycles, hydraulic lifts, and gas tanks to name a few.

A product will be considered defectively designed if it is unreasonably dangerous and every product designed by the manufacturer contains the same defect.

SKW has substantial experience related to auto products liability, which is a specific category of products liability. Ford, Nissan, Yamaha, Toyota, Hyundai and General Motors are among the national vehicle manufacturers who have unsuccessfully defended themselves against our attorneys.

The attorneys at SKW are passionate about using the legal system to encourage manufacturers to design and manufacture their products with consumer safety as their first priority. We have years of unmatched experience in products liability law, which gives our team the necessary knowledge and confidence to take on the nation’s largest manufacturers and bring justice to those injured or killed by product defects.

Representative Cases

Kirkland v. Emhart Glass, S.A.

Michael Kirkland, a resident of Vancouver, Washington, worked at a glass bottle manufacturer, Cameron Glass in Kalama. He was experienced in the glass industry, having worked for about 30 years at two other glass container manufacturing plants.

On November 26, 2008, Mike slipped and accidentally fell onto the conveyor. He landed on a red hot bottle, which caught his clothes on fire and lodged into his rectum. Despite his decades of experience, safety gear and precautions, he sustained profound, permanent injuries. The manufacturer should have provided a reasonably safe platform for workers to stand. Moreover, the manufacturer should have provided a guard or shield over the conveyor to protect workers from suffering burns when standing near/over the conveyor.

Emhart Glass violated its duty under RCW 7.723.939 to design a reasonably safe machine and to provide adequate instructions.

He worked at Ball Foster/Kerr Glass in Illinois for almost 20 years. He then worked at Rocky Mountain Bottle in Colorado, after the Kerr Glass plant closed.

In addition to a $2,400,000 recovery, the manufacturer was required to make the required changes to its equipment to provide a reasonably safe machine to operate.

 

 

Otto v. The Boeing Company, Transdigm Group, Inc. and AmSafe, Inc.
Ken Otto was survived by his 16 year old son, Bostin Otto, after Ken sustained catastrophic injuries when working on a Boeing airplane.
Confidential v. Confidential

(August 2013), $3.2 million settlement for a seaman who lost four fingers on a fish processing ship when a defective fish pan shaping machine unexpectedly slammed down on his hand.

Dowrey v. Carl’s Jr.

May 2010) $2,000,000 settlement for a head-injured child who crawled through a gap in the children’s play area equipment and fell on his head.

Confidential v. Confidential

(April 2010) $2.85 million CDN settlement for injuries to a 49 year old woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures in a Canadian motor vehicle crash when the passenger air bag did not deploy.

Stanton v. LeMay

(April 2008) $2,700,000 settlement for the deaths of two minor children who were passengers in a vehicle that rear-ended a recycling truck without proper under-ride protection guard that had stopped in the roadway.

Jane Doe v. XYZ Corporation

(March 2008) $2,650,000 confidential settlement for a traumatic brain injury due to a motor vehicle collision for the defective design and manufacture of a vehicle.

Glubrecht v. Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc.

(April 2003) $1,200,000 settlement for a tow truck operator injured by a forklift with a faulty emergency brake resulting in thoracic outlet syndrome, partial removal of a lung and a neck fusion.

Stipic, et al. v. Behr Process Corporation

(October 2002).  A class action settlement for the benefit of a nationwide class of consumers for $132,500,000.

Smith, et al. v. Behr Process Corporation

(2002) A class action verdict for the benefit of thousands of Western Washington consumers in Grays Harbor County Superior Court in 2000.  Breach of warranty and Consumer Protection Act violation case for defects in clear coatings for exterior wood surfaces.  The products promoted rather than prevented growth of mildew.  The nine class representatives received verdicts from a low of $24,000 to a high of $97,000. Applied to the entire class, the case resulted in a settlement of $67,500,000.

Carpenter v. North Thurston School District

(1999) $2,000,000 settlement against soccer goal manufacturer and school district for defects in goal which fell on Plaintiff while doing chin-ups, resulting in significant traumatic brain injury.

Vancil v. Undisclosed

$3,250,000 settlement in 1996 against a major national manufacturer for failure to have a safety device on a piece of industrial equipment for the benefit of a worker who suffered a severe closed-head injury.

Mazzei v. Industrial Seating, Inc.

(1996) $2,517,030.69 verdict for product liability case on behalf of a 37-year-old worker who herniated a disc in his back resulting in a failed back syndrome.

Homewood v. Aaby, et al.

(1995) $2,550,000 settlement for paralysis of a young woman from an auto collision plus an additional undisclosed amount from Toyota for a seat belt design failure.

Barker and Coleman v. Teco, Dana and Columbia Body and Equipment

(1994) $2,450,000 settlement for failure of a hydraulic aerial-lift used by PUD workers.

Moore v. International Harvester

(1993) $2,700,000 settlement for burns to a 19-year-old young man.

Brown v. Yamaha

(1983) $10,000,000 verdict for fifteen-year-old plaintiff rendered a spastic quadriplegic.  Product liability case for failure to provide a kill switch.  11 years it stood as the largest personal injury verdict in the state and still stands as one of the largest personal injury jury awards in Washington State court history.

Magana v. Hyundai Motor America
After years of fighting with Hyundai and appearing before the state Supreme Court, Jesse Magana received a large settlement from Hyundai.