Product Liability

Product Liability

Client v. Elpower, Corp. and Empire of Carolina
Plantiff’s Attorney: 
Robert Pedroli

Type of Accident: defective design of riding toy and it’s battery, defective manufacture of the toy battery, failure to warn on both the toy and the battery. The battery was manufactured in 1978 by Elpower, the toy was manufactured by Empire. Plaintiff successfully recharged the battery once with an automotive charger set at 6 volts and under 8 amperhours; when plaintiff tried to recharge the battery in the same way a second time, the battery exploded. Plaintiff’s claim against Elpower was that the gasket under the lid of the battery was defective and allowed gasses to escape from the battery. Further, plaintiff’s claim against Empire was that the electrical circuit at the lip of the battery was no insulated where the spade terminal was located on the side of the battery.

Injuries: Alleged: cornea of left eye scarred, resulting in unclear vision and light sensitivity, medical special: about $7,000 to date of trial; wage loss: about $8,000

Plaintiff’s Expert: Boulter Kelsey, Mechanical Engineer, expert from St. Louis, live, Dr. James Bobrow, Ophthamologist, treating doctor, from St. Louis, by video depostion; Dr. Edward Karns, Design & Warning Expert, from Boulder Colorado, live.

Defendant’ss Expert: Stanley Ross, battery expert, from R.E. Ross Laboratoies in Cleveland, Phio, live (for Empire); Dr. Ronald Rizzo, Ph.D., battery expert, from San Diego, California, live (in-house expert from Elpower).

Last Demand: $350,000 during trial to both defendants attorneys in agreement.

Last Offer: $100,000 during trial from Elpower + $25,000 structured settlement from Empire, during trial according to plaintiff’s attorney.

Verdict: Returned Aug. 25, 1989 for plaintiff $200,000 actual damages against both defendants with apportionment of fault 25% to plaintiff, 40% to Elpower and 35% to Empire for a net verdict to plaintiff $150,000 in actual damages: for plaintiff $100,000 punitive damages against Empire, no apportionment of fault applied to punitive damages; total verdict to plaintiff $400,000.