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Verdicts & Settlements

Los Angeles Juries Aren’t Always Pro-Plaintiff

— October 17, 2010

Generally speaking, California is where a plaintiff is best off bringing a product liability lawsuit.  But not always, as shown by this defense verdict in a case against a helmet manufacturer. 

Lawyers for Richard and Kandy Eubanks had asked for $18 million in damages, most of it for the future lifetime care of their 20-year-old son, Justin, who was 17 at the time of the crash.

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He was traveling 20 to 30 mph when he was hurled over the handlebars and his bike landed on top of him, causing his helmet to crack, according to the suit filed a year after the crash. His parents maintained the plastic SixSixOne Flight model was defective and that KBC gave insufficient label warnings concerning its protection capabilities.

According to Johnson, a stronger material like carbon fiber could have made a difference for Eubanks. But he said KBC used plastic because it was less expensive.

Source: Jury rejects parents’ lawsuit against helmet maker –

The plaintiffs apparently brought claims under both design-defect theories and failure-to-warn theories.  The jury rejected both theories, and found in favor of the helmet manufacturer.  One thing I would like to know is the cost difference between a carbon fiber helmet and a plastic helmet.  I know that at one point in time carbon fiber was extremely expensive, but I’m not sure if it still is.  If it is substantially more expensive than plastic, the jury may have rightly found that plastic was a permissible design.

One thing that the article discusses is that the helmet meets all federal standards.  Defendants often argue that if their product meets federal standards, it is automatically safe.  I disagree, and here’s why: Every automobile, drug, or medical device that has ever been recalled initially met a federal safety standard.

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