Who Can You Sue Without Alienating the Rest of the Family?

TurkeyNo one said anything about it, but we knew she did it. No big deal. We all forget from time to time. And besides, leaving the turkey out all night wasn’t that bad, right?


Three days spent shaking and sweating. That upstairs hall bathroom was repeatedly the scene of unimaginable carnage. We missed the Black Friday sales. We missed the opening of Adam Sandler’s new romantic holiday comedy.

Once the family recovered, we met to decide: who could we sue?

Obviously, this is a joke. My family would never sue my grandmother. Until after the New Year.

But this festive scene brings up a good point about being injured by a product sold by a local retailer: Who is responsible?

Generally speaking, product liability actions fall into two categories: manufacturing defects or design defects.

Manufacturing defects result in problems to a specific product which results in an injury. Some examples might include failing to tighten the bolt holding the lawnmower blade or incorrectly attaching the throttle cable to the gas pedal linkage. To prove these kinds of cases we generally employ people with a relevant background to inspect the product and tell us what went wrong.

Design defects are trickier. To prove these kinds of cases, we have to employ safety engineers to help us prove to a jury that: 1) the design is inherently dangerous; and 2) there is a safer alternative available. Some examples include napalm used as outdoor lighting fuel (true story) or the now-infamous 3-wheelers (long since pulled from the market altogether).

The final step is if someone (grandma) does something (lets the turkey get warm enough to grow nasty bacteria) that harms people (stomach spasms) that is neither the fault of the manufacturer (ButterBall), the distributor (refrigerated shipping trucks) or the retailer (Publix). Then, we just hope grandma has good insurance.

If you or someone you love has been injured by a product and you would like to discuss whether the manufacturer can be liable, call us. We can help you understand your rights.

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