Product Liability

PRACTICE AREA CONTACTS: Paul J. Maloney, Jan E. Simonsen, Kelly M. Lippincott, and William J. Carter

Carr Maloney counsels clients on all aspects of product liability matters and aggressively represents manufacturers and distributors faced with product liability litigation. The firm defends Fortune 500 companies, among others, in cases involving consumer, medical, office, and industrial products.

We understand the bigger business issues that face clients accused of manufacturing, designing or selling defective products. Because we understand, we view our role with the client as a partnership. As partners with our clients, we work effectively and efficiently to achieve the best possible results. Our product liability experience includes:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical Devices
  • Firearms
  • Latex Gloves
  • Sports Equipment
  • Electrical Appliances
  • Automobiles
  • Fire Engines
  • Pavers
  • Cranes
  • Valves
  • Pipes
  • Boilers
  • Water Heaters
  • Elevators
  • Industrial Equipment
  • Asbestos Products
  • Computer Equipment
  • Electrical Appliances
  • Combustible Materials
  • Nuclear Reactor Components
  • Refrigerators
  • Concrete Pumps
  • Heavy Equipment

Pharmaceutical Products

The firm was on the forefront of one of the most controversial issues facing manufacturers of pharmaceutical products – the inclusion of thimerosal in regularly administered vaccines. The firm represented a major vaccine component manufacturer in more than 100 cases filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland. The Plaintiffs alleged that exposure to mercury, contained in the vaccine component thimerosal, caused their childrens’ autism. Carr Maloney vigorously defended its client on multiple grounds, ultimately resulting in a dismissal of all claims.

For years, the firm has represented a major pharmacy chain and its pharmacists in litigation in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. We have successfully defended these clients in state and federal courts against product liability claims arising from their distribution of pharmaceutical products.

Building and Construction Materials

In nine separate cases involving cumulative exposure in excess of $100 million, we represented a manufacturer of polybutylene plumbing systems. The Plaintiffs in these matters alleged defective design and manufacture, breach of warranty and misrepresentation. After dramatically limiting our client’s exposure, we successfully settled these matters.

Machinery, Heavy Equipment and Vehicles

Carr Maloney understands the strong defenses available to product liability clients, even when the products are defective. For example, we aggressively defended the manufacturer of a concrete pump that Plaintiff alleged injured his foot. While the record in the case showed that the Plaintiff might have had a strong liability case, we aggressively attacked his strict liability claim with an assumption of the risk defense. Further, we challenged his breach of warranty claim because the Plaintiff did not purchase the product and could not benefit from representations made at the time of sale. Using these defenses as leverage, we were able to resolve the matter satisfactorily prior to trial.

We defended a fire truck manufacturer in a federal court case involving a 1972 vintage fire truck. The Plaintiff alleged serious injury when the truck flipped over while responding to an emergency call. The Plaintiff hired eight liability experts to challenge the industry’s now obsolete truck design. We responded by engaging superior expert witnesses and narrowing the issues through motions practice. The case settled for less than the Plaintiff’s out-of-pocket expenses.

We resolved a case favorably for a manufacturer whose crane tipped over during operations. In that case, Plaintiff accused our client of strict liability, negligence and failure to warn. The lawsuit involved cross-claims among the manufacturer, distributor, and user.

Medical Devices

We have represented medical device manufacturers in high profile cases. We filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U.S.470, which is the leading case regarding federal preemption in the medical device arena. The firm is well versed in federal preemption defenses available to medical device manufacturers. We have briefed and successfully argued federal preemption defenses in state and federal courts. For example, the firm represented the manufacturer of an implanted defibrillator that allegedly malfunctioned, causing the recipient major complications. We requested that the trial court dismiss the action on federal preemption grounds, leading to successful resolution prior to any discovery being undertaken. The firm also represented a major medical device manufacturer in a $500 million product liability/medical malpractice, wrongful death and Survival Act claim in the District of Columbia. We aggressively defended this action to protect product integrity. The firm successfully employed the defenses of federal preemption and learned intermediary for the class III PMA device at issue.

Carr Maloney has also successfully defended clients based upon the regulatory compliance defense. The regulatory compliance defense provides that if there is no obvious defect in the product, and the manufacturer has fully complied with governmental and industry safety standards, the product is not inherently dangerous. We represented a power tool manufacturer sued by a man who cut his leg with the company’s worm drive saw. Because we asserted the regulatory compliance defense, our client prevailed.

Other representative clients include manufacturers of ventricular assist devices, surgical bouvie pads, pacemakers, durable medical equipment, geri-chairs, electric wheelchairs, wheelchair lifts and fluoroscopy units.

Office Products

We served as regional trial counsel to a major computer and office equipment manufacturer involved in more than thirty law suits in which the Plaintiffs allegedly sustained repetitive stress injuries (RSI) from the use of the manufacturer’s keyboards. As a result of dispositive motions prepared by the Firm, the courts dismissed the vast majority of the cases.

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