For those who have ever been involved in products liability lawsuit due to a manufacturing defect or a product that was intentionally marketed in a faulty manner, it may already be clear that it is possible to claim damages for injuries suffered as a result of the defect or improper marketing. As Baltimore personal injury lawyers, we come across instances of faulty product design, incorrect manufacturing processes, and incorrect labeling here in Maryland and across the U.S. Some of these instances can result in severe physical injury and occasionally wrongful death.
Here in Maryland, our state’s liability statutes clearly state that businesses which manufacturer and/or provide products to the public are usually better suited than anyone to make certain that any faulty or mislabeled products not enter into the consumer market. Because of this, the law holds that any company that does allow a faulty or poorly produced product to go into the marketplace, and which harms an individual or group of individuals, should be held responsible.
It’s important to mention here that over the years, the law covering products liability has evolved to the point that it has become a very complex matter to mount a claim, but not impossible. This is why, for those victims or their families, it is important to consult a personal injury attorney to better understand your rights as they apply to the particular case.
In the actual bringing of a products liability claim, trial lawyers usually pursue one of three primary types of lawsuits: those based the theory of negligence, breach of warranty, or strict liability. Under the negligence theory, a plaintiff will assert a company that made a faulty product failed to do what should be reasonably prudent for any manufacturer to do. This may include failure to properly design, correctly manufacture, or properly inspect the product before placing it in the marketplace. Even failure to warn consumers may serve as sufficient justification for a claim by an individual who has been injured by a dangerously defective product.
Many times each year, U.S. and foreign auto makers announce recalls of various vehicle models due to a problem with one or more components or parts. It seems that we have been seeing more and more large-scale recalls of late, but the future may hold something different. In the case of Toyota Motors, news articles indicated that the company would be paying a record monetary penalty for delaying a recall related to a problem with the floor mats on more than 150,000 SUVs.
Based on reports, the fine of $17.35 million was the fourth paid by Toyota in two years involving allegations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that the Japanese auto manufacturer delayed safety recalls. Although the company is paying the fine, officials at the automaker stated that by doing so they were not admitting any wrongdoing. Instead, Toyota said that it was paying the fine to avoid any continued dispute with the NHTSA.
The recall in question involved the company’s ‘10 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h sport utility vehicles, which allegedly had a problem that could possibly allow the driver-side floor mat to interfere with the vehicles’ accelerator pedals. The NHTSA held that the affected vehicles should have been included in an October 2009 recall of 3.8 million vehicles for the same issue. According to reports, it wasn’t until early in 2012 that Toyota finally agreed to include those two SUVs as part of the broader safety recall.
Combined with the previous three fines reportedly paid by Toyota in April 2010, as well as December 2010, Toyota will have paid more than $66 million in the past three years. However, consumer safety advocates have suggested that even as large as the figure might appear to the general public, it amounts to just a drop in the bucket compared with the annual profits recorded by most automobile manufacturers.
Toyota to Pay Record $17.35 Million Fine for Delaying Recall, NYTimes.com, December 18, 2012