From baby swings and car parts to medications, recalls are extremely common in the world of consumer goods. While some products are recalled as a preventative gesture—simply because they may have the potential to cause harm—others aren’t recalled until people have already suffered serious injuries. A recent recall of eyedrops sold at Walgreens and Wal-Mart is one of the former; though this product hasn’t been tied to any adverse events, the company has issued a voluntary recall.
Which Products Are Effected?
The July 2019 recall is for a line of over-the-counter eye ointments and eyedrops. The recalled batches were created for Walgreens and Wal-Mart store brands. In total, the recall includes 23 products. Altaire Pharmaceuticals Inc., the manufacturer, claimed that these products had the potential for non-sterility. The recall was issued for 150 lots.
While there have been no adverse events related to this recall, medical products produced in a non-sterile environment have the potential to cause serious illness, fatalities, and life-threatening infections.
Damages for Product Liability Cases
Recalled and defective products fall into an area of law known as product liability. When consumers are harmed by a product, they may be able to file a personal injury case against the manufacturer, retailer, or wholesaler. Product liability cases vary widely in potential damages; while one product may cause short-term issues that resolve on their own, another defective product could cause multiple deaths and lifelong injuries.
Many people harmed by defective products choose to work with personal injury lawyers; manufacturers often have massive legal budgets, making it difficult for an individual to bring a case against a company unless they already have an extensive knowledge of personal injury law. Individuals may ask for damages for medical bills incurred as a direct result of the event, potential future medical bills, long-term care, pain and suffering, lost wages, and lost future income, amongst other damages.
Major Product Liability Cases in the U.S.
Most recalls go much like the Altaire Pharmaceuticals recall; a notice is issued, people have the chance to return their potentially defective goods for a refund, and no one is harmed. However, in the backlogs of American legal history, you’ll also find massive product liability cases that left a trail of fatalities and injuries while causing irreparable damage to companies’ reputations.
One relatively recent recall involved faulty ignition switches installed in certain GM automobiles. This defect, discovered in February 2014, was linked to a number of potentially fatal issues. A dysfunctional switch could, for example, disable power brakes, prevent airbag inflation during a crash, or even turn off the engine while the car was in motion. This issue is ongoing, and the switches have been tied to 124 deaths and hundreds of serious injuries. Just a few years earlier, GM was at the center of another product liability suit. Its Dex-Cool coolant was found to cause engine damage. About 35 million GM customers were included in a class action lawsuit, and the company ended up paying out up to $800 to each customer.
Another case, which is frequently misunderstood in the public eye, involves a woman who sued McDonald’s for her coffee being too hot. After getting her coffee in the drive-through, she spilled the coffee in her lap and sustained serious burns. She filed a personal injury case against the company, and the resulting investigation showed that the McDonald’s location in question frequently kept its coffee at temperatures that were far too high for safe food service. As a result, the coffee was considered defective and the woman received nearly $3 million from the lawsuit.