Articles Posted in Defective Products and Product Liability

The Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews was selected for first tier (those firms that scored within a certain percentage of the highest scoring firms) inclusion in the 2010 inaugural rankings of U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms”, in the practice areas of Personal Injury Plaintiffs and Product Liability Plaintiffs. “The selection involved surveying thousands of law firm clients; leading lawyers and law firm managers; partners and associates; and marketing officers and recruiting officers. Each were asked what factors they considered vital for clients hiring law firms, for lawyers choosing a firm to refer a legal matter to, and for lawyers seeking employment.”

“Client and lawyer surveys collected mostly reputational data. Using a scale of 1 (weakest) to 5 (strongest), clients voted on expertise, responsiveness, understanding of a business and its needs, cost-effectiveness, civility, and whether they would refer another client to a firm. Lawyers voted on expertise, responsiveness, integrity, cost-effectiveness, and whether they would refer a matter to a firm and whether they consider a firm a worthy competitor.”

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal in Guillot v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 2008-1485 (La. App. 4 Cir. 9/24/10), upheld awards of $2,775,000 to a mother and $2,100,000 to a father for the death of their 17 day old brain damaged baby who was surgically removed from the mother’s abdomen following an accident, and was removed from life support 17 days later. The mother was pinned between the vehicle door and a brick column when the defective Jeep Cherokee rolled backwards.

The Court of Appeal reasoned as follows: “We do not find that the trial court abused its vast discretion with respect to the general damage award, nor do we find that the award shocks the conscience. It is indisputable that the unique facts of this case are extraordinarily tragic. Additionally, the Louisiana Supreme Court has held that ‘[t]he determination of the severity of mental anguish of distress resulting from the death of another is a fact question which depends upon several components, including, but not limited to, the closeness of the ties between the parties, the degree of love in the relationship, and the length of the relationship.’ Herbert v. Webre, 2008-0060 (La.5/21/08), 982 So.2d 770, n. 7 (citing Hill v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co., 05-1783 (La.7/10/06), 935 So.2d 691, 695).”

On August 20, 2010, another Yamaha Rhino rollover accident claimed the life a Louisiana woman and injured a Louisiana teenager. The accident occurred on La. Highway 124 around Harrisonburg, Louisiana. The Louisiana woman lost control of the 2004 Yamaha Rhino and exited the right side of the road, and then reentered the road and began rolling over.

The Yamaha Rhino is increasingly the subject of product liability lawsuits alleging instability because abrupt maneuvers or aggressive driving cause rollovers even on flat, open areas.
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Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury attorney, Paul H. Dué, was again selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America ® 2011 for the seventeenth straight year (1995-2011), this time in the fields of Personal Injury Litigation and Products Liability. (Copyright 2011 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, S.C.). Inclusion in Best Lawyers ® is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey in which more than 39,000 attorneys cast almost 3.1 million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas.

Since its inception in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”
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A 19 year old active duty soldier was killed in a single vehicle car crash in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana on July 2, 2010, when his 1994 Ford Explorer ran off the right side of Louisiana Highway 120 in a curve. As the driver attempted to reenter the highway, he over-corrected and his Ford Explorer began to rotate to the left and then rolled over. The driver was not wearing his seat belt.

Louisiana State Troopers in Troop E have investigated 32 fatal car crashes this year, resulting in 37 fatalities Continue reading

On the evening of March 31, 2010, a distracted Louisiana truck driver allegedly caused a nine vehicle accident on Interstate 57 in Illinois, when the 18 wheeler he was operating rear-ended a vehicle in a construction zone. The Louisiana truck driver was allegedly looking down at a map when he encountered the slow moving traffic. Three people were killed when their SUV caught on fire. Thirteen people were hospitalized.

According to the United State Department of Transportation, there are three primary types of distracted driving: 1) visual or taking your eyes off the road; 2) manual or taking you hands of the wheel; and 3) cognitive or taking your mind off what you are doing. Examples of activities that distract drivers include texting, grooming, talking to passengers, eating and drinking, reading (including maps), watching electronic devices, using a cell phone and changing the radio station or other music player.
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On March 19, 2010, an Iowa jury returned a $32.8 million verdict in favor of Ivon Toe, Assata Karlar and five passengers in a 1997 Chrysler minivan that rolled over after sustaining a tire tread separation on the rear mounted Cooper Tire. Ivon Toe was rendered quadriplegic and Assata Karla suffered a wrongful death. Part of the jury verdict included punitive damages assessed against Cooper Tire. The plaintiffs’ attorneys relied on Cooper Tire’s delay for years in making needed changes to its tires despite Cooper Tire documents wherein Cooper Tire executives discussed tire failure rates and the cost of remediation. Cooper Tire claims its tires, including the tire involved in the Toe case, “are safe and reliable, exceeding not only all government standards but also our own, more rigorous, internal standards.” Cooper Tire says it will appeal the jury’s verdict. The case is Toe v. Cooper Tire and Rubber, CL 10694, Iowa District Court, Polk County (Des Moines).
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2.3 million Toyota vehicles in the United States were recalled by Toyota Motor Corporation because of defective accelerator pedals. Because of a defective mechanism, the gas pedal can become stuck causing sudden acceleration. Included in the recall are the 2009-2010 Toyota RAV4; 2009-2010 Toyota Corolla; 2009-2010 Toyota Matrix; 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon; 2007-2010 Toyota Camry; 2010 Toyota Highlander; 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra; and the 2008-2010 Toyota Sequoia SUV. Toyota had been blaming the sudden acceleration problem on floor mats becoming lodged under or against the gas pedal.

Under Louisiana law, personal injury and wrongful death claims against Toyota for injuries caused by an unreasonably dangerous defective gas pedal are governed by the Louisiana Product Liability Act, La.R.S. 9:2800.51, et seq.
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A Tickfaw, Louisiana woman was killed on January 12, 2010 on I-12 in Hammond, Louisiana, when her 2004 Mercury Mountaineer sustained a rear left tire blowout, causing the SUV to roll over several times. The cause of the tire blowout is unknown at this time. It could have been caused by impact damage, excessive wear, or improper installation, inflation or maintenance. Or, many SUV rollover and tire blowout accidents are actually caused by product defects in the SUV and tire. In order to properly investigate the potential product defects in the SUV and tire, the SUV and tire must be preserved for testing.

Common tire defects include a lack of an adequate antidegradant and antioxidant package; inadequate adhesion in the tread belt system; lack of or insufficient belt edge wedges or “gum strips”; a thin inner liner that allows air to leak into the carcass of the tire; and lack of nylon overlays or cap plies. Correction of these common tire defects can prevent catastrophic tread belt separation that lead to tire blowout. Additionally, some SUVs are improperly designed and manufactured with defective handling characteristics; with a roof structure that does not maintain structural integrity in a rollover; with an extremely high center of gravity which results in a propensity to roll over; and with a suspension designed and manufactured in such a manner as to allow the rear end of the vehicle to skate under foreseeable circumstances, resulting in a propensity to overturn. Some SUV manufacturers have even allowed and approved the installation of larger size tires than the vehicle was designed for, thereby increasing the vehicle’s center of gravity and the potential for SUV rollover, and required a substandard inflation pressure for the SUV’s tires.
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Two men supposedly cooking fish were rushed to Springhill Medical Center and then to LSU Medical Center’s Burn Unit in Shreveport, Louisiana, with serious burn injuries following an explosion at their Sarepta, Louisiana home on December 29, 2009. Webster Parish Deputies are investigating the true cause of the explosion. According to the United States Fire Administration, 84% of all civilian fire deaths occurred in residences in 2008. Baton Rouge, Louisiana burn injury attorney, Scott Andrews, warns residents to never leave an active cooking appliance unattended, never place hazardous or flammable liquids near a gas hot water heater, and never leave flammable materials near space heaters.
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