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Increased instances of large awards for product liability in 2014

Tennessee residents may remember that there were numerous vehicle-related product recalls in 2014. However, they may not realize that the year was also notable because of several high-value verdicts in product-related cases. The implications for the auto industry could be particularly serious from a financial perspective.

One of the most significant verdicts involved an initial punitive award in excess of $23 billion to the family of a deceased smoker. However, the amount was reduced by the judge to just under $17 million. Actual damages awarded in the case were also just under $17 million. The 36-year-old laborer lived in Florida and had been a smoker since his teen years. In a case involving a diabetes drug, Actos, a man sued over his development of bladder cancer. A jury awarded punitive damages of $9 billion and compensatory damages of more than $1 million. Although the punitive damages were significantly decreased by the judge in the case, the two companies involved were still left with a decision totaling more than $35 million.

Although GM was one of the most noted auto makers in terms of recalls, one of the largest auto-related verdicts in 2014 involved Hyundai Motor Co., which was to be assessed nearly $250 million in a case involving the deaths of two teenagers. The lawsuit was settled confidentially, and the company was not required to admit to vehicle flaws or wrongdoing. Legal professionals who were involved in some of these large actions indicate a sense of confidence with regard to potential success in other auto-related liability cases.

Product liability is a serious concern to consumers, especially when vehicles and other goods are marketed based on issues such as their safety benefits. An individual who has experienced adverse consequences because of a vehicle or product malfunction may want to discuss their situation with a product liability lawyer to determine whether litigation is a reasonable step to take.

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