The Florida Supreme Court recently reinstated a multi-million-dollar verdict handed down by a jury
in an asbestos case in 2012. The case sets several important precedents
for product liability law in Florida and provides important guidance on
who can be held liable in such cases moving forward.
Product liability cases have long been an important avenue for victims
of faulty product to recover for their damages. Too often we see that
large corporations or other entities manufacture, distribute, market,
and sell a defective product to the public that causes a great deal of
harm. When that happens, victims have a right to recover from the responsible
parties for their damages, pain, and suffering.
What Happened in This Case
This case dates back to the 1960s when the use of asbestos was common across
a number of industries. The victim in this case was a construction worker
who inhaled asbestos from dust on construction sites where he worked.
As a result of inhaling these compounds, the man contracted asbestosis
At the time when the victim in this case ingested the dust from these compounds,
a major corporation mined, developed, and manufactured a compound using
asbestos. The same corporation then marketed and sold this compound to
different corporations who put them in products such as drywall, spray
compounds, and other products that were commonly used in the construction industry.
Soon after these products became popular and useful, it was discovered
that they posed a significant threat to the health of workers who came
into contact with them. The risks of inhaling asbestos include contracting
asbestosis and mesothelioma (a type of cancer). Since that discovery,
lawsuits have been filed, fought, and won to make the companies responsible
for the production and use of these products liable.
Legal Issues in This Case
After the victim in this case won his verdict at trial, the company
appealed and won at the Florida Third District Court of Appeals. In the opinion, the Third
District ruled that the manufacturer could not be held liable under a
design defect claim because of the design defect rule of product liability.
The plaintiff did not show that the defendant could have designed a safer
product and did not adequately warn of the dangers of the products containing asbestos.
The Florida Supreme Court disagreed with the lower court’s ruling.
The High Court
reinstated the multi-million dollar verdict and ruled that in product liability cases such as these the consumer expectations
test, and the not risk utility test should be used. As a result, the verdict
was reinstated and the victim was compensated as the jury ruled he should
be. This overturned the Third District’s reasoning, but it also
set a precedent for future product liability cases filed against the manufacturers
of faulty products.
The Pittman Firm we represent and defend victims of faulty and defective products. If you
have been injured by a defective product,
contact us. We will over your case with you and give you the advice and counsel that
your case deserves.
See related blog posts:
Economic Loss Rule and Product Liability Cases;
Florida Court of Appeals Rules on Product Liability Case.