Interesting interview with a food poisoning lawyer (Washington Post)

1 Like

What . You schedule a appointment . And say , "I left --------------- take out over night on the counter and I ate it the next day and puked over and over . I had no idea there was a food poisonig lawyer . Really !

Hopefully that’s not how it works, in your example there is clearly operator error, I don’t see how you could blame the food producer for that.

since when has THAT ever kept anyone from filing a law suit? Some that have happened close to me –

Two guys decided to trim the hedge between their houses. Instead of using, oh, you know, a HEDGE TRIMMER, they decided that picking up a walk-behind lawn mower and using that to trim the hedge was a really good idea. We’ll leave it that neither of them is playing the piano any more…but they sued the mower manufacturer because the instructions didn’t specifically say that you shouldn’t pick it up and use it as a hedge trimmer.

Guy pressure-washing a house…got thirsty and decided to get a drink. From the hose. With the pressure wand still attached. Sued for negligence.

I’ve worked in consumer products for a good part of my career, and as soon as you think you have reached the very depths of human stupidity, someone comes along and digs below that.

1 Like

Did they win?

I know the hedge trimmer guys sued Toro and won. That’s why lawn mowers have that bar on them that needs to be depressed while holding onto the steering bar. When you remove your hands , the mower turns off automatically.

Wow! Very interesting. Lawn mowers are heavy and awkward, not surprising something went wrong.

Both of them won – the Toro suit as above, and the pressure-washer one very nearly destroyed the pressure-washer industry, as once that one his the dockets, everyone who’d ever so much as looked at a pressure-washer sued.

There are tons of others that are settled out of court - NOT because of any negligence on the part of the manufacturer, but because it’s cheaper to write a check for $200k than to fight it out in court. Settling just makes it go away.

I just watched the Frontline program about the outbreak of a virulent strain of salmonella and the limits of gov’t authority to require a recall. By identifying the food producer, it would seem to be enough to keep consumers from buying the product. That alone would pressure the culprit to issue a voluntarily recall or risk a public relations disaster.

I’m glad you posted that link. The interview, if nothing else, provides some insight into the astounding complexities of the patchwork regulatory system we endure - and which continues to fail. In the end, thirty-plus years of trimming the federal government’s authority to inspect producers and enforce the existing laws has shifted many of the burdens of food safety onto the consumer.

The fundamental consequence of this move towards increasing the “freedom” of the market is that consumers are left with only the courts for remedies and punishment of the abusers and violators. Consumer litigation is not wholly ineffective. After all, it was through recourse to such actions that we were able to finally remove, restrict, or relabel inherently dangerous products like asbestos, cigarettes, lead. The primary flaws with the approach are that it is cost-intensive and the mere existence of the impotent regulatory system creates an illusion of protection" from tortfeasors. Both of which embolden industry.

None of this is new. As with this interview, there’s been some attention paid to it by the better parts of our media. Hell, I’ve been posting about it for years now on these food-centric websites. The thing is, it is quite wonky and complicated - even for those of us with decades of experience in the law and public policy - and not the kind of unnuanced issue for which a platitude can be used to sway a voter.

I don’t think you really understand this issue. Settlements of this type are not driven by manufacturers. They are primarily the result of insurance coverage issues and the way the insurers and re-insurers want to handle them. If Lloyds et al. are willing to settle, it’s because there is a better that 45% chance of negligence - more often, the threshold is set at around a 60% educated guestimate.

As to suits against power washer manufacturers, there really have not been many filed. The biggest is a potential class action (it may have been certified by now, I’m not following it very closely) against Troy and B&S alleging that a “possible defect may be causing the machines to lose pressure, stall, or not start at all.” A pretty straight-forward, non-personal injury, product liability action.

In the larger context, I’m curious. After all, consumer recourse litigation is the only tool available to us to protect ourselves from unscrupulous practices. Moreover, we have undergone a shift in the scope of the fiduciary duties owed by officers and directors to the corporation as a whole. So the question occurs, how do we prevent industries/manufacturers from maximizing short-term profits with illegal practices without either government authority or litigation?

Really? How many years have you been in the power tool industry? How do you have any vague notion of what I understand?

I never said that the pressure washer incident was current – it was actually quite a while ago – long since settled. I knew a lot of people in the industry whose jobs, livelihoods, and companies – the actual companies that they had founded and grown – were lost in the crossfire.

And that comment about “cheaper to settle”? That came from one of the counsel of a Forbes 100 manufacturer – an actual attorney, not a copy-room intern. Almost verbatim, no less.

Your disdain for those who state things that you don’t choose to agree with (or believe) is…well, Momma said if I didn’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

So bless you and your little white socks.

None. Closest I’ve come was, as a junior associate, writing the first few drafts of an opinion letter to the Milwaukee Board shortly after the Atlas acquisition. Over time, however, my practice specialty evolved into mass torts - particularly large scale liability resolutions. Consequently, I have spent a couple decades involved in product liability litigation and policy. Nevertheless, my CV is not the issue at hand.

Odds are, the quote you’re paraphrasing was offered in a watered-down form, to avoid a more complete and complex response. Yes, settlement is often a business tool. This does not change the fact that the biggest element in decision to use the tool is the availability of insurance coverage. Especially when hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent and questions concerning the duty to defend come into play.

As to white socks, I rarely wear them (or socks in general, for that matter). “White shoes”, on the other hand, were once part of the daily uniform.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter!

Press Room
“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold