Defective Pressure Cooker Results in $26 Million Settlement
A five-year-old girl suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of a defective pressure cooker that blew its cover. According to the lawsuit, the pressure cooker’s lid blew open. The young girl suffered burns over the majority of her body. This, in turn, required doctors to amputate one of her legs and fingers on both of her hands.
In response, Lifetime Brands, who manufactured the defective Vasconia pressure cooker cut the plaintiffs a check for $26 million—which is one of the higher settlements you’ll see. However, the young woman now faces a life of prosthetics and will have difficulty performing basic tasks and even feeding herself. She was two years old at the time of the injury.
Strict Liability in Defective Product Lawsuits
Certain types of tort or personal injury claims do not require plaintiffs to prove negligence. Product liability lawsuits are one such tort case that does not require plaintiffs to prove negligence. The plaintiffs need only show that they were using the product in the expected way at the time of the malfunction and the malfunction resulted in injuries to plaintiffs.
In some cases, a company produces a product that they either know or later find out is defective and they keep it on the market without issuing a recall. In these cases, it is typical for the company to settle the lawsuit under seal quietly and then repeat that process until there is a formal inquiry. In this way, they do not have to publicly admit culpability and they’re willing to settle for huge amounts of money in order to purchase that right. Nonetheless, the product remains on the market.
In the case of the aforementioned pressure cooker, the locking mechanism that was distributed with the cooking device was the wrong size for the cooker itself. At some point, the company realized their cooker needed to be fitted with another locking mechanism, but they never issued a recall for the device.
In cases like this, it is typical for the plaintiff’s attorney to attempt to prove negligence. In this case, arguing that the company was negligent for allowing the device to remain on the market when they knew it was potentially hazardous. In this case, their failure to do so forever changed the life of a defenseless two-year-old girl who now has to live without a leg and a number of fingers. This opens the company up to punitive damages.
Punitive damages are awarded when the defendant’s conduct is egregious. The company likely felt that with a sympathetic victim, a jury might nail them to the wall for this preventable tragedy. They are likely correct in that regard.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs actually had to track down an older model which they purchased on eBay. They compared it with the newer model which had a slightly different locking mechanism and noted that the company had made the change.
Talk to a Miami Personal Injury and Product Liability Attorney
The Miami legal team at the Alan Goldfarb P.A. helps injured victims recover damages from those responsible. Give us a call or contact us online and we can begin discussing your case today.