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Understanding the Different Types of Product Defects

Cranwell & Moore P.L.C. Feb. 14, 2023

There are three types of defects in product liability and these are design, manufacturing and labeling.

Consumers in Virginia have a right to expect that the products they purchase are free of any kind of defect. Yet sadly, that is far from the truth. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports injuries associated with pools and spas, portable electric radiators, products used in nurseries, bedding, TVs, ATVs, children’s toys, trampolines, treadmills and amusement rides. These injuries can include burns, head trauma, asphyxiation, broken bones, lost limbs, illnesses, permanent disability and death.

There are three types of product defects that injured victims can cite – design, manufacturing and label.

What Is a Design Defect?

According to Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, a product can be considered defective if it can be shown that there was something wrong with the design itself. However, not only must plaintiffs show that the design was defective, but they also must “prove there is a hypothetical alternative design that would be safer than the original design, as economically feasible as the original design, and as practical.”

An example of a design defect would be the issue raised after seven people died upon contracting a super bug in California. ABC News stated that the infection may have been caused by a change in the design of two endoscopes the hospital used to perform endoscopy procedures on the patients. Apparently, Olympus Corporation of the Americas, the maker of the devices, did not obtain clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration before they sold them to the hospital. It is suspected that the change may have prevented staff from removing all traces of bacteria on the scopes, which are inserted into the small intestine through the mouth.

What Is a Manufacturing Defect?

During the manufacturing process, there are a number of things that can go wrong, posing a risk to people who use the product. This may include harmful chemicals seeping into edible items, lead-tainted materials or a change in the design of the product during the manufacturing period.

Just recently, Food Safety News stated that salad products packaged at a processing facility owned by Dole are believed to have been tainted. A dozen people through six states were hospitalized and one person died after they consumed the product and contracted listeriosis. The illness is especially hard on the elderly, those with weaker immune systems, newborns and pregnant women. The products were sold in several states, including Virginia.

What Is a Label Defect?

Label defects are often used in issues with medical devices, pharmaceuticals and other consumer goods. A product can be considered defective if a manufacturer or company has failed to list all of the risks associated with that product, chemicals found in the product (if it is to be ingested), or all side effects the product may cause.

CBS News reported that the FDA recently ordered that pelvic mesh should be labeled as a high risk device. Tens of thousands of women have filed lawsuits against the makers of the mesh, claiming that they were not warned of the serious side effects such as infection risk, continuous pain and bleeding. Under the new label, manufacturers will be under stricter requirements in order to release their products on the market.

When people in Virginia feel that they have suffered unnecessary injury from a product, they may find it helpful to meet with an injury attorney. The attorney can explain to them what their options are and assist them in preparing their claim for compensation.