When a company manufactures and distributes a product, that company takes on a certain amount of responsibility for the safety of its customers. This duty stems from a network of laws and organizations established to protect the rights of consumers generally known as "Consumer Protection". A company's responsibility takes on a variety of forms such as ensuring there are no defects in a product's design or manufacturing, ensuring warranties are not violated or breached, and providing fair warning of the risks related to the product. When a company fails to meet these strict requirements and a consumer is injured as a result, the company may be liable in a court of law.
A recent NY Times news article highlights an example of a company whose failure to warn, a Colorado jury has decided, cost a young man his health, and may cost the company millions of dollars. The company in question is Riddell, a sports equipment manufacturer that provides helmets and other protective gear to the NFL and other sports teams throughout the country. During a high school football practice, a young man wearing a Riddell helmet named Rhett Ridolfi sustained a concussion. He was not taken to the hospital immediately following his injury and suffered severe brain damage and paralysis on the left side of his body as a result. Although it was determined that the helmet's design and manufacturing were not defective in any way, the company was found to be at fault for failure to warn its customers of the risk of concussion related to the use of its product. After deliberation, the jury concluded Riddell is responsible for 27 percent, of Ridolfi's damages, which amounts to 3.1 million dollars.
This is not the first case of its kind, nor is it the last. Riddell was exonerated by a Mississippi jury last year in a suit that arose after a young man suffered a stroke after football practice. Similarly, the company has been named in a lawsuit in which thousands of retirees have claimed the NFL failed to adequately warn about the long-term health risks posed by repeated head trauma.
Even products that are intended to keep consumers safe, such as helmets, have inherent associated risks. Whether those risks are obvious or not, under product liability law, a manufacturer has a duty to adequately warn its consumers. A failure to do so may result in tragedy, as it did in Rhett Ridolfi's case, and may be qualified as negligence in a court of law.
If you or a loved one have sustained an injury as a result of a defective product or a manufacturer's failure to warn you of risks associated with the use of its product, it is wise to contact a personal injury attorney for more information about your rights.