Failure to Warn Lawsuits
Manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of a product have a duty to provide adequate warnings on their products if the product could cause foreseeable harm. If they don’t, they can be held liable for injuries.
Section 23.05 of the Washington, D.C. Jury Instructions details failures to warn.
East Penn Mfg. Co v. Pineda
Much of the jury instructions stem from East Penn Mfg. Co. Francisco Pineda worked as a mechanic at Callaham’s Refuse Company. His job included keeping the refuse trucks (trash trucks) working.
On November 21, 1983, Pineda began working on a 1977 Ford. Soon after, the battery exploded. Battery acid and case fragments entered his right eye, causing near complete blindness. East Penn manufactured and assembled parts of the battery, and sold it to Leeth Brothers. Leeth Brothers sold it to Callaham Refuse. The battery sold by East Penn bore a warning label; Leeth Brothers then attached a larger label.
Mr. Pineda’s lawsuit alleged that the injuries resulted from an inadequate warning label. The superior court ruled in favor of Pineda. On appeal, the court again ruled in Pineda’s favor, finding that the warning was inadequate because it did not advise Pineda of accompanying risks, that the jury could have inferred that a proper warning would have led Pineda to act differently, and that East Penn Mfg. Co. was to indemnify Leeth Brothers because East Penn wrote the warning label and should be held responsible.
Hull v. Eaton Corporation
Edward Hull was operating an Eaton Forklift. He hit a bump. After hitting a bump, a piece of the forklift fell, injuring Hull. He sued Eaton, alleging, among other issues, that Eaton had breached its duty to warn Hull of the risks of using the forklift. The court ruled that Eaton could not have reasonably foreseen this injury, and was not liable.
Warnings must do two things. First, they must adequately advise of risks in using the product that might not be obvious. Second, the warning must provide specific directions for safe use. If the warning does not achieve both, the jury is to assume that all damages were from the product.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to negligence or wrongful conduct, the attorneys at Cohen & Cohen can help get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (202) 955-4529 for a free case evaluation!