Every year, thousands of people are injured or killed by defective products. Under Georgia law, companies and manufacturers have a duty to consumers to ensure their products are safe. Any product that malfunctions or otherwise doesn’t work as intended is considered defective. And, if that product injures the consumer, the product may be considered dangerous.
In many cases, defective products result in recalls. In the best-case scenario, recalls are a minor inconvenience for consumers. In the worst case, defective products cause serious injury or fatalities. Following is a list of some of the biggest, most costly, and most notorious product recalls to date.
- Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol (1982): Although there have been bigger and costlier recalls, this product recall had a huge cultural impact. J&J’s swift “recall that started it all” action set the standard for how companies should handle product recalls, and arguably saved their brand.
- Firestone Tires & Ford (2000): Defective Firestone tires installed on Ford trucks and SUVs were linked to 271 deaths and 800 injuries. Both companies blamed each other, but eventually they both initiated recalls. Firestone and Ford severed their nearly 100-year relationship after the scandal.
- Merck’s Vioxx (2004): Like Bextra, Vioxx was to be a groundbreaking arthritis medication. However, it was recalled after studies showed it increased the risk for heart attacks and strokes. Studies showed later that Vioxx may have contributed to nearly 28,000 heart attacks and cardiac deaths between 1999 and 2003.
- Pfizer’s Bextra (2005): Pfizer was hit hard by the FDA when it was forced to pull its arthritis medication Bextra off the market due to heart risks and skin reactions. Later, they settled civil and criminal lawsuits alleging they had illegally marketed the drug.
- Peanut Corp. of America (2009): This small peanut processing company had a salmonella outbreak that resulted in nine deaths. The recall drove down peanut butter sales, even for companies that were unaffected, and a Peanut Corp. executive was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
- Toyota (2010): Toyota had to recall 1 million vehicles for faulty floor mats that had the potential for the gas pedal to get stuck underneath them. Later, the company was fined by the Justice Department for covering up information about the floor mat problem and other safety issues.
- General Motors’ Ignition Switch (2014): GM recalled more than 30 million cars after it was discovered a faulty ignition switch could shut down the engine without warning. This resulted in disabling the power steering, airbags, and brakes—linked to at least 24 deaths.
- Volkswagen’s Diesel Engine (2015): Also called “Diesel-Gate,” VW was forced to recall 11 million vehicles when it was discovered they had been cheating on diesel emissions tests. It turned out their engines were emitting pollutants up to 40 times more than allowed under U.S. standards.
- Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 (2016): One of the most popular smartphone manufacturers had to recall their new model when it started to literally go up in smoke. Within two months of product launch, Samsung recalled 5 million devices after receiving reports of overheating batteries and fires.
- Takata Air Bag (2008 to present): This is the biggest product recall to date. The faulty air bag inflators made by the now-bankrupt Takata were used by almost every car manufacturer worldwide. To date, 100 million air bags are under recall due to risk of exploding and spraying shrapnel inside the vehicle.
When a company allows a defective product to stay on the market because they value profit over safety, they must be held accountable. At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, our attorneys are experienced in this complicated area of law and are ready to assist you with your case. To arrange a no-obligation consultation, call us at 404-998-8847 at our Atlanta office, or in Savannah at 912-417-3774, or fill out our contact form.