Corporate Indifference Often Cause of Dangerous Defective Consumer Products | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

When a company prioritizes profits over people, indifference to serious safety issues in their product, or products, often results. Why? Because re-designing a product and/or recalling an existing product is expensive and may lead to a steep decline in quarterly, or yearly, profits. The examples are numerous. Johnson & Johnson executives were reportedly aware that their talc baby powder product may cause women to develop ovarian cancer back in the 1980s. Did they issue a national recall and revise their talc powder formula? No. It would have cost too much money and reduced profits. As a result, thousands of women have had their lives turned upside down and J&J is now embroiled in massive litigation with juries awarding millions to women who were the victims of corporate neglect.

Taking on Corporate Indifference

Our law firm is experienced in taking on big corporations and holding them accountable for their neglect and indifference to consumer safety. A prime example was the $2.5 million jury verdict we secured for the widow of a man who was burned alive by a defective ride-on lawn mower.

Our client was operating a Ryobi ride-on lawnmower to mulch and vacuum up leaves that collected in his backyard in Chesapeake, Virginia (VA). While mowing, a fire broke out causing his clothing to catch on fire. Suddenly, our client was engulfed in flames and died shortly thereafter.

Rick Shapiro, a defective product injury lawyer with our firm and the holder of 19 U.S. patents, partnered with Rob Sullivan, another experienced defective product injury attorney, represented the widow who was forced to watch in horror as her husband was burned alive. They determined that Ryobi, the company that had its logo emblazoned on the ride-on lawn mower, should be held responsible for manufacturing a mower that would allow fuel to leak and catch on fire.

Digging Deeper into Recalls by Ryobi’s Contract Manufacturer

Shapiro and Sullivan discovered that there were numerous recalls of ride-on mower parts between 2000 and 2006 involved the contract manufacturer of the Ryobi mowers that were sold in Home Depot stores. It turns out the mower fuel line was defectively designed to the point that it could easily detach from the plastic fuel tank outlet resulting in a serious risk of a fire.

Defective Product Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Ryobi

Sullivan and Shapiro now had adequate evidence of product defects to support warranty and negligence claims against manufacturer Ryobi.  After the exchange of significant discovery, Ryobi claimed there had never been a fire on a Ryobi ride-on lawnmower and that there had been over 18,000 mowers produced.  Moreover, Ryobi claimed that recalls of other brand mowers with identical recalled fuel tank designs were somehow irrelevant to the issues in Frank Wright’s situation.

Corporate Defense – Look at the Smoke and Mirrors

The defense for Ryobi involved a series of accusations meant to demean the life of our client, Frank Wright. For example, they claimed that our client was suffering from dementia (not true), had a serious heart condition (not true), and could barely move without the assistance of a walker. They even claimed that it was “misuse” for an elderly senior, over the age of 65, to use a ride-on lawn mower. The evidence was infuriating and the Court did not buy it.

$2.5 Million Jury Verdict

After deliberating for a number of hours, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client for $2.5 million. The jury determined that Ryobi negligently designed the ride-on mower and that faulty design legally caused the deadly fire in 2010.

Contact Our Firm Today

If you or a loved one was seriously harmed due to a defective product, we’re here to help. As you can see from the case above, our law firm is not afraid to take on big corporations and will work tirelessly to obtain the compensation you and your family deserve.