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Does a Recall Protect Manufacturers from Product Liability Claims?

January 22, 2020

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Recently Almark Foods issued a recall for its hard-boiled egg products that were sold by major food retailers, including Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, ShopRite, and Costco. The eggs in these products were contaminated with listeria, and have already made people in several states ill, including right here in Pennsylvania. Although listeria infections typically do not affect healthy people, they can be fatal for pregnant women and their unborn children, and anyone with a weakened immune system.

The recall has raised a question that often comes up when a manufacturer recalls their own product. Due to the fact that the manufacturer warned the public and removed their product from shelves, can they be held liable for injuries and illnesses that result from the contaminated or defective goods?

How Recalls Work

When a manufacturer becomes aware of a defect in their product, or a government agency brings the defect to the attention of the manufacturer, a recall may be issued. The government agency may issue the recall, or the manufacturer may issue one on their own. In some cases, several recalls may be issued by both the manufacturer and government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration or the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Once the recall is issued, a notice is sent to all sellers and distributors of the product so they can remove it from their shelves. Purchasers of the product should also be notified, to a reasonable extent. The recall will provide instructions on what consumers should do with the product, and warn of the dangers associated with it.

Holding Manufacturers Liable for Defective Products

Unfortunately, a recall does not automatically mean the manufacturer is liable for the defect. Some courts will allow evidence of a recall to help establish the fact that the product was unsafe, but plaintiffs must still prove their product liability case.

To claim damages, plaintiffs must prove a product was defective and that they became ill or injured as a result. Establishing this proof is important, as not all courts will allow evidence of the recall for fear that it will bias a jury against the manufacturer. Although it sounds fairly straightforward, providing this proof is not always as easy as it sounds.

However, this also does not mean that a recall will always protect a manufacturer from liability claims. The manufacturer also must establish certain elements of their case if they wish to remain protected. For example, they must prove that the specific plaintiff received notice of the recall and that the recall sufficiently explained the dangers posed by the product.

Manufacturers are also prohibited from shifting the blame to sellers or distributors of the product for not notifying the customers. When this is the case, manufacturers may be able to file their own claim against a seller or distributor in the future, but will still be held accountable for the defective product and the plaintiff’s injuries.

Were You Hurt by a Defective Product? Call Our Pennsylvania Product Liability Lawyers

Any time a consumer is injured or becomes ill due to a defective product, they may be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer. These claims are incredibly complex however, and large corporations often have teams of lawyers that will refute the claims of the plaintiff and build a strong case against them. If you have been injured, you need the help of a Philadelphia product liability attorney that will be just as aggressive in their pursuit of claiming the damages you deserve.

When you have been injured by a defective product, contact us at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim for the skilled and experienced representation you need. We know how to hold manufacturers accountable for their negligence, and we will stand up to their legal team, and their insurance company. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 to schedule your free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.



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