Product Failure: The Worst of the 21st Century, Part I

Product Failure: The Worst of the 21st Century, Part I


461694_three_kidsOne of the most serious forms of lawsuit seen by personal injury attorneys is that caused by product failure or product malfunction.  In many cases, manufacturers have overlooked defects in design that have led to serious injuries or tragic loss of life.  Cases like this can hit very close to home, threatening family, friends, and neighbors right here in Saint Petersburg.  In order to reduce the risk faced by consumers, the FDA and the CPSC have continually monitored products and customer feedback to ensure unsafe items are pulled from the market.  Unfortunately, they aren’t always quick enough and some of the product failure recalls that occur are preceded by horrible accidents.  Of all the recalls seen over the past 14 years, since the turn of the century, this list contains the worst.

It’s Child’s Play. A number of product failures involve children’s toys.  Among the worst of these was the 2007 recall of approximately one million Easy Bake Ovens.  This came after several reports of children’s hands getting stuck in the oven opening, leading to second and third degree burns, including one case serious enough to require finger amputation.

Another bad product failure in the youth market was that of approximately one and one-half million toy Thomas trains in 2007.   They were recalled when it was discovered that the toys contained lead.

Rock-a-Bye Baby. 2010 was a bad year for those creating infant products.  That year saw the first of the drop-side crib product failures that would stretch over the following three years as well.  Thousands of cribs have been pulled from the market after it was discovered that babies could become trapped between the sides of the cribs and the mattresses.  There were several reports of suffocation.

To make matters worse, even more parents suffered loss when using Infantino Baby Slings.  This led to the recall of one million carriers for threat of suffocation.

Also in 2010, a series of Graco high chairs were recalled after 24 children were injured.  In total, about 1.2 million were pulled from the market due to product failure or product malfunction.

In the Foods that We Eat Category. We cannot talk about recalls without mentioning that, between 2006 and 2013, countless bags of spinach were recalled due to e-coli exposure.  Many Americans paid the price in the form of serious intestinal illness.  At least one death was reported. 

During that span of time, in 2009, the same fate met the peanut butter industry (and several other food companies that relied on peanut butter as an ingredient) due to salmonella contamination.

While it’s not a food, millions of Americans rely on Johnson and Johnson’s Tylenol each day, but in 2010, 60 million bottles were recalled due to many complaints of a bad odor.  The tainted pills led to many cases of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and other side effects.  According to CNN Money, “The company said the smell was caused by a chemical called “2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA),” which is applied to wooden pallets that are used to transport and store packaging materials.”

These are just a few of the disastrous cases resulting from product malfunctions.  Human error will always be a factor (as well as greed) leading to the continuous need for product recalls.  It is important, as a consumer, to regularly check the recall list via your local St. Petersburg news station or the CPSC website so you can avoid a bad accident.