Corporate Investigations: The Defences to Product Liability

Corporate Investigations: The Defences to Product Liability

Speaking to Bart Jay Robey who specializes in product liability defense, we learn more about product liability and how such cases work.

What are the defenses to product liability?

In Oklahoma, there are numerous defenses to a product liability claim, including but not limited to, alteration of a product, voluntary assumption of a known risk, unforeseeable/abnormal misuse, state of the art design, or the product complied with or exceeded mandatory safety standards or regulations.

Out of all the awards received for personal injury jury cases, product liability, on average, sees more costs associated with it[1].

Is the statute of limitations a defense in a product liability case in Oklahoma?

It is. In Oklahoma the statute of limitations for a product liability claim is two years from the date of the injury or incident. The discovery rule can toll this period in certain circumstances.

What if something else caused the plaintiff’s injury?

In order to maintain a product liability action, a party must establish a defect existed in a product which made the product unreasonably dangerous. The defect is required to have existed at the time the product left the manufacturer’s control. Further, the claimant must establish that the identified defect caused the injury. In addition to the defenses discussed above, lack of causation is fatal to a claim of product liability. Thus, it is imperative to not only evaluate any and all defenses, including affirmative defense, to a product liability claim – but it is equally critical to evaluate all other potential causes to the incident, independent of the claimed defect.

Annually, an average of 5 – 10% of personal injury liability lawsuits are based on defective products and the hazards that come with them[2].

What challenges arise in product liability cases?

Time is one of the biggest issues of concern. The length of time between an incident and notice of a claim or lawsuit can limit the ability of a manufacturer to fully investigate the incident. Evidence, witnesses, an accident scene, and the product itself could be lost during the intervening time period. Additionally, the age of the product can create difficulties, even though the alteration of a product is a viable defense.

Anywhere from 100,000 to almost 300,000 injuries are caused by toys each year – meaning that many injuries are inflicted on to children.

As a legal gamechanger, how do you overcome these challenges for your clients?

Consistent with the points above, maintaining the product, evidence, and securing the incident/accident scene is critical to forming the best defense. Proactively interviewing witnesses and gathering information prior to a lawsuit or a formal request allows counsel to develop a defense and evaluation before an adversary can define the field. Regular contact and updates to clients allow the client to engage in informed and efficient decision making on how to manage the claim or litigation at the beginning and throughout the life of a case.

 

Bart Jay Robey

Chubbuck Duncan & Robey, P.C.

100 North Broadway, Suite 2300

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102

405-236-8282

405-236-2828 (Fax)

bjrobey@chubbucklaw.com

More about Bart…

I am Bart Jay Robey, a co-founder of Chubbuck Ducan and Robey P.C. We are a litigation firm based in Oklahoma City specializing in the defense of product liability, bad faith, and property/casualty claims.  I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, but attended college and law school in Washington D.C. Following graduation from the George Washington Law School in 2003, I returned to Oklahoma to start my practice. From the outset, I always wanted to be a litigator. There are certainly downsides: longer hours and more stress than most of your colleagues and friends. However, there are few other jobs where each day is filled with matters of consequence and true challenge. Performing the job at a high level requires you to summon each talent you may have. On my best days that involves tenacity, endurance, empathy, and, yes, a little bit of audacity.

Since our Firm’s founding in 2012, we have been fortunate to work with a roster of international product manufacturers and insurers that are typically represented by much larger firms. As a young law firm, we have survived and thrived in the market as a result of responsiveness to clients’ needs and the development of business relationships based on trust and reliability.

The challenges of running a law firm are diverse and, at times, unexpected. There is no “how-to” manual. However, the best part of my job is the challenge of maintaining the quality of our work product and positioning the firm for future growth. In an environment where pressure is pervasive, building a team which can take work seriously, but not one’s self, is critical.

[1] https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-product-liability

[2] https://www.hersheyinjurylaw.com/personal-injury/defective-products-theyre-more-common-than-you-might-think/