Pennekamp Law

Product Liability Examples – Goods Gone Bad

Product liability cases can involve almost any conceivable man-made item. Pennekamp Law has experience with a vast number of different types of product liability cases. Below are some examples of the more dramatic product liability cases we have successfully handled for our clients.

Defective Aircraft

Private Aircraft

Represented the victim of an airplane crash caused by a defectively designed fuel valve selector. The victim’s wife purchased her husband a flight in an Italian military training aircraft for a flight involving a game of laser tag with another aircraft using laser tagging. On short final approach for landing the plane lost power crashing ironically into a graveyard short of the runway. The husband suffered serious spinal injuries. In investigating the accident, it was found that the fuel valve used to switch fuel tanks was positioned between the tank selections. The valve itself was situated between the knees of the pilot and the co-pilot (our client) who sit side by side in this aircraft. With the help of our expert engineers it was determined that the position of the selector would shut off all fuel to the engines and the investigation further revealed the engine had quit from lack of fuel. Our research into these Italian aircrafts revealed that this was not the first incident of this nature and in fact the manufacturer had secretly modified the fuel valve selector handle and added a guard on newer craft to prevent exactly what occurred in this case without issuing an actual recall.

Commercial Aircraft

Represented two stewardesses who suffered severe facial injuries during an in-flight explosion on a commercial aircraft. The aircraft departed Miami for Trinidad. Shortly after takeoff an explosion occurred in the forward galley of the aircraft sending shrapnel into the cockpit and our clients faces. The plane was able to turn around and return to Miami International airport. The passengers and crew were deplaned using the emergency exits. The plane was placed in a bomb proof hanger for fear the explosion was an act of terrorism. The ensuing investigation revealed the explosion had originated from a hot water heating tank in the galley used to brew coffee and tea. Our experts painstakingly analyzed the wreckage and came to learn that the airline had installed a check valve rather than a pressure relief valve in the unit. The parts actually appeared to be identical save the part ID markings. The result was that unit could not vent excess pressure causing the explosion.

Ultralight Aircraft

Represented the family of a young man killed during a ride on an ultralight aircraft in the Keys. During the flight the ultralight collapsed mid-air plummeting into the ocean and killing both the pilot/owner and the client. The investigation revealed that the aircraft was not designed to be operated in a salt water environment due to the fact it contained dissimilar metals resulting in intense corrosion from a process known as electrolysis. This process had eroded chafing guards on the main wing support wires. Without these guards the wire rubbed through and broke causing a catastrophic structural failure in flight.

Defective Bicycles

Represented the victim of a bicycle accident resulting in severe facial injuries. The client had purchased a new mountain bike from a major manufacturer. While riding the bike off a small drop the front fork and wheel separated from the handle bars inside the steering tube. The handle bars rotated upward, and our clients face was impaled with the tubing. Expert metallurgists determined that the actual welds holding the parts together were improper causing weakness. As a result the manufacturer issued a recall to remedy the issue.

Sliding Gates

Represented the husband of the victim against the manufacturer and installer of a sliding electrical gate responsible for his wife’s tragic death. The victim was found strangled to death in a sliding electrical death at her apartment complex. The gate lacked safety measures to prevent entrapment including sensors and clutches designed to prevent excess forces from the gate. In addition, the gate had been installed without a separate pedestrian entrance forcing residents to use the gate to enter and exit the property on foot. Moreover, the installer had placed the key pad to open the gate within reach of the gate and failed to provide a key pad on the interior thereby enticing residents to reach through the gate to open it allowing them to leave the property on foot. To make matters worse, the gate had broken bars from prior non-fatal entrapment creating a space in the gate you could lean through to operate the keypad to open it. As a result, the wife leaned through the gate entered the code and her neck was trapped instantly causing her death.

Represented another victim of a sliding gate who was also killed in a similar manner by another electric sliding gate at another apartment complex. Defectively manufactured and installed electric gates is an area our lawyers have extensive detailed experience in prosecuting successfully.

Carnival Rides

Represented victims severely injured in a spinning carnival ride. The victims were thrown out of the ride and severely injured when the ride flew apart during operation. The investigation revealed that just this section of the ride had been patched and rewelded approximately 32 times over the same spot. The entire ride was in extremely poor condition having long ago exceeded its useful lifespan. Despite passing rudimentary inspection by the state the ride was a death trap. Motivate by profit the ride operator had failed to properly upkeep and update its equipment putting young children in harm’s way.

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