Many consumers prefer gas appliances to those powered by electricity. Though these products are generally safe for consumers’ use, defects in their design or manufacture may result in an unknowing consumer’s serious injury or death. On September 23, 2014, for example, Hearth & Home Technologies recalled approximately 20,000 gas fireplaces, stoves, inserts, and log sets with brand names Heat-N-Glo, Outdoor Lifestyles, and Quadra Fire for a defect that poses a gas and fire hazard. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the gas valves in the recalled items can leak gas and cause a fire. The units were sold at fireplace stores from May 2014 through July 2014 for between $1,200 and $8,000. Consumers are instructed to immediately stop using the items, to turn off the gas to the units, and to contact the fireplace store at which the unit was purchased to arrange for an inspection and gas-valve replacement if replacement is determined to be necessary. The inspection and any necessary replacement will be performed without charge to the consumer.
Defective products such as the gas units recalled by Hearth & Home Technologies have the potential to cause serious personal injuries or deaths. Who may be held responsible if someone is injured or killed by a defective gas stove or other product? In most cases, the product manufacturer as well as others involved in the product’s distribution may be found legally responsible for injuries or deaths caused by a product’s defect. The Killino Firm’s product liability and injury lawyers have extensive experience with personal injury and wrongful death cases, including those arising out of injuries and deaths caused by defective products. If you have been injured or one of your family members has been killed in an accident caused by a product defect, The Killino Firm can help you achieve justice from the responsible parties.
Legal Responsibility for Injuries and Deaths Caused by Defective Fireplaces, Stoves, or Similar Products
Manufacturers and others involved in the production and release of defective products are generally held liable for injuries caused by product defects through product liability actions brought by an injured plaintiff or the family of a deceased victim. These actions may be brought as negligence or strict liability claims, though strict liability claims have distinct advantages for plaintiffs in comparison to negligence claims. An illustration in the Restatement (Second) of Torts (which governs the law of product liability actions in most states) provides an excellent example of this distinction and how it might apply to a case involving injuries or death caused by a defective gas stove, fireplace, or heater such as those recalled by Hearth & Home Technologies. In the Restatement illustration, A, a retail dealer, sells a defective gas stove to B without any knowledge of the stove’s defect or any reason to suspect the existence of the defect. The heater does contain a defect, however, which results in the release of poisonous fumes that injure B. In a product liability action brought as a negligence claim, A, the seller, would not be found legally responsible for B’s injury.
Under the same set of facts, however, the seller may be held strictly liable for B’s injury or death caused by the gas stove’s defect. This is because certain strict-liability defendants may be held liable for injuries and deaths caused by a product defect even if none of the defendants was negligent in making the product defective. Thus, the plaintiff in a strict-liability product-liability action may be able to recover damages from defendants who may not have been found liable in a negligence product-liability action. Defendants who may be held strictly liable in such cases may include not only the entity or person who sells the product to a consumer but also the designer, manufacturer, suppliers, assembler, and wholesaler of the product.
Products leading to strict liability may be made defective during the design or manufacturing stage or as a result of the failure to warn of dangers associated with the product’s use. Thus, the seller of an otherwise non-defective gas stove may render it defective under product liability law by failing to include a warning with the stove of dangers that may be created if a purchaser or other user does not follow the included instructions for the stove’s safe use. A seller’s failure to include instructions regarding the safe installation of gas stoves, for example, may be found to have rendered the stove defective and result in the seller’s liability for injuries sustained by a purchaser as a result of the purchaser’s incorrect installation of the stove.
Sellers may be relieved of strict liability for “defects” in products created after the product has been sold to a member of the public, however. According to Section 402A, comment g of the Restatement, a seller who delivers or transfers a product to a consumer in a safe and non-defective condition will not be held strictly liable for injuries caused by the purchaser’s mishandling of the product. Thus, a consumer who has been given clear and adequate instructions for the proper and safe installation of a gas stove may be precluded from recovering damages for injuries sustained by the consumer as a result of the consumer’s failure to follow the installation instructions.
Obtain Expert Assistance from The Killino Firm, P.C.
The Killino Firm’s team of personal injury and wrongful death attorneys is known nationwide for its expertise in defective products cases and its dedication to holding all those responsible for victims’ defective-product injuries and deaths accountable through legal action. Contact The Killino Firm for high quality and aggressive assistance with your product injury case.