Defective Products and Dangerous Drugs Injury Verdicts

Product liability cases arise from a wide range of consumer goods, from defective tires to drugs with harmful side effects that haven't been adequately disclosed. Product liability cases may be tried individually, like any other personal injury case, or may be the subject of a class action.

Defective products may cause sudden injuries, as when brakes fail on an automobile, or they may cause long-term harm that isn't discovered immediately, as in the case of silicon breast implants.

Can You Sue Over a Defective Product or Medication?

If you've been injured because a product didn't work the way it should have, or didn't have appropriate safety features, or a drug had side effects you and your doctor weren't warned about, you may have a product liability claim. For more information, arrange a free consultation with an attorney your area today. Simply fill out the form below to get started now.

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Most of the product liability cases reported in the news are for substantial amounts, both because many are class action cases and because juries often award significant punitive damages against large corporations they feel have knowingly put the public at risk.

However, product liability claims aren't limited to the type of cases you'll see below: these cases have been collected from news sources across the country and have made the news at least in part because of the size of the verdicts and the high profiles of the companies involved.

*Results taken from recent news articles. Results not typical. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Appeals Court Upholds $3.2 Million Food-Poisoning Injury Verdict

A California appeals court recently upheld a $3.2 million injury verdict that was awarded to a 25-year-old woman who suffered permanent nerve damage after eating bad tuna at a popular restaurant in Dana Point, CA. After she ate the bad raw fish, she had to oftentimes use a wheelchair and couldn't walk long distances. Now, she said she's better, but she still can't participate in strenuous exercise and still experiences daily cramps and spasms.

This is a precedent-setting decision that will likely change the results of future lawsuits because food-poisoning cases will now be governed by the same basic rules of causation that govern other cases.

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$4.5 Million Verdict Upheld for Fire Hose Death & Injury

A Pennsylvania appeals court upheld a $4.5 million injury verdict that was awarded to the families of two 10-year-old girls who were struck while playing in their yards by a fire hose that dangled from a moving fire truck. One girl died of head injuries and the other was extensively injured.

The deceased girl's mother and sister, as well as the injured girl's sister, were also named as plaintiffs. A Superior Court panel said state law allows emotional distress damages to some bystanders who witness injury to a close relative, and it was ruled to be applicable in this case.

The court further ruled that the manufacturer of the fire truck is liable for the accident. The plaintiffs also earlier reached a $500,000 civil settlement with the fire department that was involved.

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$8.2 Million to Man for Mirapex Contributing to Compulsive Gambling

A federal jury in Minneapolis, Minnesota awarded $8.2 million to Gary Charbonneau over a lawsuit alleging that his use of the prescription drug Miraprex caused him to become a compulsive gambler. Miraprex, a drug used in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease and restless legs syndrome (RLS), is manufactured by Pfizer and distributed by Boehringer Ingelheim, both named as defendants in the case. Charbonneau argued that despite indications of its contribution to compulsive behaviors, the manufacturer did not provide proper warnings of these possible side effects. Charbonneau lost around $260,000 during the last year of taking the drug.

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$13 Million to Family for Loss of Child Due to Defective Van Seat

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently upheld a verdict that granted $13 million to the parents of an infant for wrongful death, in a lawsuit aimed at Dodge Caravan manufacturer DaimlerChrysler Corp. The child was killed in an automobile accident in 2001 when the family's minivan was rear-ended, causing the front passenger seat to fly back and crush the infant in his car seat. The couple was able to argue successfully at trial that the manufacturer knew about the seat defect but did not adequately warn customers of its potential to cause injury. One major part of the case against Chrysler was the testimony of an employee who was fired for warning managers that he would go to the authorities with information on defective seats if the company failed to act.

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$6 million class-action lawsuit for defective brakes in Kia Sephia sedans

A class-action lawsuit, filed by lawyers on behalf of buyers of Kia Motors' Sephia sedan between 1997 and 2000, claims that the car had a defective breaking system. The plaintiffs successfully argued that the Sephia's braking system did not adequately dissipate heat, causing brake pads and rotors to wear down quickly despite not being part of Kia's warranty policy. The $6 million award will distribute around $750 each to claimants; approximately 8,500 people are eligible for compensation.

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$1 million to boy for injuries due to swallowing magnets from toy

In a story reminiscent of the recalls of toys with small magnets from last year, Rose Art Industries recently settled a lawsuit over its "Magnetix" toy after magnets from it caused severe personal injuries in a 4-year-old child. The family of William Finley, 4, filed the lawsuit after the child had swallowed magnets from the toy that lodged in his intestines after he ingested them. The boy is now 7 and suffers from persistent constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain due to his intestinal injuries, and must eat a special diet to accommodate the pain.

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$11 Million from Mitsubishi for Defective Seat Belt that Caused Death

A West Palm Beach, Florida court ruled that Mitsubishi was liable for the SUV rollover that resulted in the death of a 25-year-old man whose parents filed a lawsuit against the company, and ordered the car manufacturer to pay $11 million to the couple. The man was a passenger in the Montero SUV when the accident occurred, and he was ejected backward through the rear of the vehicle. The lawsuit claimed that the seatbelt was defective, and despite knowledge of problems with the belt, Mitsubishi never warned customers or corrected flaws in design that were corrected in later-year models. Ten million of the verdict was awarded for pain and suffering.

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$54 Million Paid to Recall and Settle Contaminated Pet Food Complaints

Menu Foods settled a class-action lawsuit over contaminated pet food sold in the United States and Canada that killed thousands of dogs and cats. The pet foods contained amounts of tainted wheat gluten, which produced melamine, a chemical used to make plastics. The FDA discovered this contaminant after the New York State Food Laboratory discovered aminopterin, a separate harmful chemical. The specific class-action amount was not disclosed, though the recall process as a whole cost around $53.8 million.

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California Court Upholds $82.6 Million Verdict to Paraplegic Woman

An appeals court in California upheld an earlier jury verdict of $82.6 million to a woman who was paralyzed as a result of a defective design in a Ford automobile. The ruling surprised legal experts because the U.S. Supreme Court had ordered a reconsideration of the previous ruling in light of the reasoning from previous Supreme Court case Philip Morris USA v. Williams, which ruled that jurors cannot punish a defendant for harm to third parties when determining punitive damages. The new ruling upholding the previous award did not, in the appellate judge's opinion, punish Ford for injuries to third parties, but rather upheld the ruling highlighting the repeated nature of Ford's action. $55 million of the $82.6 million total were punitive damages.

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$27 million for breast cancer from Premarin and Prempro menopause drugs

A Little Rock, Arkansas woman sued Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Upjohn over allegations that she developed breast cancer after taking their hormone-replacement therapy drugs. Donna Scroggin, like nearly 6 million over women, took Premarin and Prempro made by Upjohn and Wyeth to treat menopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Scroggin was awarded $27 million in punitive damages, $19.3 million from Wyeth and $7.7 million from Upjohn, for their failure to warn customers of the increased risk of breast cancer.

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$15 million to pilot's family for defective manufacture leading to crash

The family of a surgeon from Warren, Ohio reached a settlement with Mooney Aircraft Co. and Mooney Aerospace Group; Honeywell International Inc.; Honeywell General Aviation Business Corp.; Honeywell Business; and Winner Aviation over responsibility for the surgeon's 2003 crash while piloting his own plane. The companies agreed to resolve the lawsuit by paying a settlement of $15 million, though each company's responsibility was not publicized. Recipients of the money in the settlement are members of the surgeon's family, including his wife, sister, niece and mother.

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$23.3 Million Payout to Customers of Cold Supplement Airborne

The makers of Airborne, a popular multivitamin supplement designed to boost the immune system to fight colds, agreed to a class-action settlement with consumers for advertising and packaging that falsely claimed that the product cures and prevents colds. Experts who tested the product found that it contained elements that were common to many multivitamins, and the amounts of Vitamin A may be too much, since two pills contain the maximum recommended amount per day, while the instructions recommend using the product up to three times per day. As part of the $23.3 million settlement, Airborne has agreed to provide refunds to consumers, as well as pay for ads in best-selling magazines to inform consumers how to request refunds.

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$30 Million Class Action Settlement for Lead-Painted Thomas & Friends Toys

A class action lawsuit against the RC2 Corporation, manufacturer of the popular Thomas & Friends toys, for allegations that the company used a lead-based paint in the toys was settled for more than $30 million. The settlement was reportedly joined by lawyers who had filed class action lawsuits in Florida, California, New Jersey and Tennessee. Under the agreement, those eligible for benefits of a full cash refund or replacement toy with additional bonus toy would be those who purchased the toys recalled during a set of recalls in June and September 2007. In addition to these reimbursements, RC2 agreed to implement new safety measures to prevent the lead paint from being used again, and has promised to donate $100,000 to a not-for-profit organization.

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$200,000 for non-childproof lighter that caused three deaths

Gwendolyn Phillips and her grandson, Neil Williams, 19, of Farrell, Pennsylvania reached a $200,000 settlement with Swedish Match, for its liability in the death of Neil's mother, Robin Williams, and two siblings, Jerome Campbell and Alphonse Crawford. Two-year-old Jerome had ignited a fire with a Cricket lighter manufactured by Swedish Match, which caused a major fire in the family's apartment, causing the three to die of smoke inhalation. Neil Williams, who was five at the time, was rescued by a neighbor who saw him pounding on a window. After twelve years of litigation, the case of negligence on behalf of Swedish Match for failing to manufacture its lighters with childproof features was resolved.

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Ford Hit for $3 Million in for Defective Seat that Led to Death

A jury in Cobb County, Georgia, awarded $3 million to the adult children of a woman who was killed when the back seat of her car broke during an accident. Ford Motor Co. was ordered to pay the award for a defective design in the car seat, which the plaintiffs claim the company should have known about and fixed previously. The award was made for compensatory damages, and no punitive damages were awarded.

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$6 Million Settlement for Death in "Big Dig" Tunnel Collapse

The family of a woman who was killed in the so-called Big Dig tunnel during a collapse in 2006 received a settlement of $6 million from Power Fasteners, Inc., the supplier of a fast-drying epoxy used in ceiling panels that fell and killed her. Milena Del Valle and her husband Angel, were driving through the Big Dig when the collapse occurred, killing her and leaving him with only minor injuries. 15 defendants were named in the lawsuit, but as of yet, Power Fasteners, Inc. is the only defendant to settle.

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Firefighter Widow Settles for $27 Million for Fire Equipment Failure

Fire safety manufacturer Survivair was hit with a $27 million verdict for malfunctioning equipment that led to the death of St. Louis firefighter Derek Martin. Angela Martin, the widow of Derek Martin, brought a lawsuit against the company and its French parent company Bacou-Dalloz. According to reports, Martin died after taking off his Survivair mask to try to fix a clogged valve. $15 million of the amount is punitive damages, and the remaining $12 million in actual damages was already awarded. Survivair previously settled for $5 million with the widow of firefighter Robert Morrison for her lawsuit alleging failure of Morrison's personal distress alarm.

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Flight Instructor and Student Awarded $53 Million from Parts Manufacturers for Airplane Crash

A flight instructor and his former student were awarded a large jury verdict of $53 million from two manufacturers for defective parts in the airplane the two were flying when it crashed in July 1999. Instructor Nicholas Grace and student pilot Mark Godfrey sustained extensive injuries, including facial fractures and brain injuries, when an exhaust valve their Cessna 150 stuck and the engine failed. Precision Airmotive Corp., who manufactured the engine's carburetor, and Teledyne Technologies, Inc., the engine manufacturer, were ordered to pay the sum, plus Precision was ordered to pay an additional $1.5 million punitive damages for ignoring numerous reports over 40 years that the carburetor had defects. Grace was awarded $32 million of the award, and Godfrey $21 million.

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Walgreens Swallows $25.8 Million Pill in Prescription Drug Lawsuit

A family was awarded a total of $25.8 million for the death of a cancer patient in a recent Bartow, Florida jury trial. The patient, Beth Hippely, received the wrong prescription amount for her cancer treatment due to a Walgreens pharmacy error, and later suffered a stroke as a result. The prescription for the blood-thinner Warfarin, filled by a 19-year-old untrained employee, was misfiled and subsequently filled for 10 times the prescribed amount. Walgreens was found guilty of negligent breach of duty and wrongful death by the jury, which awarded the verdict amount to Hippely's surviving husband and three children.

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$6.7 million awarded for faulty car seat

A Montana jury recently awarded nearly $6.7 million to the parents of a 4-month-old boy who died of head injuries in a 2000 car crash. Chad and Jessica Malcolm alleged that their son Tyler was killed when his head struck the hard plastic seat after it was ejected from the vehicle during the rollover crash. Evenflo, the car-seat maker, argued that the boy's head hit the ground when the door next to his car seat opened during the rollover. The District Court jury decided that Evenflo should pay the entire award.

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Drug company to pay $2.5 million for inadequate labeling

The acne medication Accutane has many listed side effects, but the maker of the drug, Hoffman-La Roche, did not adequately warn consumers of one particularly nasty one: inflammatory bowel disease. In the trial of the first of nearly 600 plaintiffs suing the drug manufacturer for claims involving the disease, Andrew McCarrell, from Moody, AL, was awarded $2.5 million in compensation, though Hoffman-La Roche was not responsible for any punitive damages. The company does list a brief warning that the medication is associated with inflammatory bowel disease, but the jury decided that its appearance on the label was inadequate in comparison to the larger-print, lengthier warnings about more well-known side effects on the packaging. The absence of punitive damages in this personal injury lawsuit was due to the ruling that the company's inadequate warnings did not constitute consumer fraud.

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$37.5 million awarded for cancer

A Miami jury recently awarded $37.5 million in damages to an ex-smoker who developed cancer. The jury's decision will affect three tobacco firms: Philip Morris, Brown & Williamson and Liggett Group. John Lukacs smoked cigarettes from each tobacco company for 30 years and developed terminal bladder and oral cancer. The case is the first tobacco suit to reach trial in the state since a jury awarded 700,000 Florida smokers $145 billion in a historic class-action lawsuit in 2005.

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$5.5 million awarded for pain patch death

A Florida federal jury recently awarded $5.5 million to the estate of a man who died from an overdose due to the malfunction of a popular prescription pain patch manufactured by two Johnson and Johnson subsidiaries. In 1996 Adam Hendelson shattered his hip in a car accident, causing surgeons to graft a metal plate onto his hip with bolts and pins. His spine, back, and hip were all degenerating inflicting him with constant pain. In 2003, Hendelson began using a prescription patch called Duragesic, which administers a powerful painkiller through the skin. In late 2003, Hendelson passed out while wearing a 75-microgram patch and never awoke. The jury found Johnson and Johnson subsidiaries Alza Corp. and Jansenn Pharmaceutica negligent in producing the defective patch and that they had failed to adequately warn the public about the dangers of the patch.

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$55 million awarded for shipping line defect

A federal judge recently upheld a $55 million verdict to the family of a San Pedro longshoreman who was killed when an apparently defective Dodge pickup hit him at a shipping terminal in 2004. Richard Mraz was working at the American Presidents Line facility on Terminal Island when a 1994 Dodge Dakota reversed into him after he had exited the vehicle. He was knocked to the ground and sustained a fatal head injury. Jurors found that a "park-to-reverse" defect in the Dakota caused Mraz's death and found DaimlerChrysler negligent in the design of the vehicle's transmission system.

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$10.4 Million to Paralyzed Woman

A Florida jury recently ordered that Ford Motor Co. pay $10.4 million to a 65-year-old woman who was paralyzed when her 2000 Explorer was rear-ended by a Toyota Solara in 2001. Donna Grimes said the Explorer's back seat was defective because it collapsed during the collision which caused her to hit the seat behind her upon impact. Following the accident, Grimes sustained a broken neck and was left quadriplegic.

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$1.5 Million for Breast Cancer

A Philadelphia jury recently ordered Pfizer Inc. to pay $1.5 million in damages after it was proved, in the latest verdict, that postmenopausal hormone therapy causes breast cancer. The jury found Pfizer liable for failing to properly warn New Jersey plaintiff Merle Simon's physicians of the breast cancer risk posed by Provera, the progestin half of hormone replacement therapy. Merle and Stephen Simon of West Orange, New Jersey brought this case against both Wyeth and Pfizer for the insufficient labeling on the hormone therapy products Premarin, Prempro, and Provera. Ms. Simon took hormone replacement therapy from 1992-2002 and discontinued use of the drugs when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

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$19.5 Million for Multi-State Drug Abuse

The Connecticut manufacturer of the painkiller Oxycontin has recently agreed to pay $19.5 million to 26 states and the District of Columbia to settle concerns about its aggressive marketing of the drug. The settlement comes after years of criticism that Purdue Pharma L.P. over-marketed the addictive drug and failed to disclose its potential for abuse. Oxycontin was originally prescribed for patients suffering from terminal cancer or crippling arthritis, but Purdue used an expanded sales force and promotions to encourage physicians to prescribe it for many ailments. A doctor of the state medical examiner's office in Roanake said 228 western Virginians died from oxycodone overdoses from 1996 through 2005. The settlement was announced by the Virginia Attorney General who said the agreement would compel Purdue to use ethical marketing guidelines to sell Oxycontin.

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$7 Million awarded to paralyzed driver

A jury in Middlesex County, NJ awarded $7 million in compensatory damages to a paralyzed driver who rolled his Ford SUV in 2000 due to a defective throttle. The suit claimed that the faulty design of the 1997 Ford Explorer's throttle made its accelerator stick in the closed position. When the plaintiff Rebekah Zakrocki pressed hard on the accelerator while driving, the vehicle lurched forward. Panicking, she turned the wheel to the left, causing the vehicle to roll over. Zackrocki's right hand was nearly severed in the crash, and she also suffered from torn nerves in her brachial plexus, leaving her with only 10 percent use of her right arm. She can no longer work as a cosmetic salesperson.

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$3 Million Jury Verdict in Prempro Case

Jennie Nelson's lawyers argued the hormone-replacement drug Prempro caused her to develop breast cancer. Nelson was diagnosed with breast cancer after taking the drug for 5 years to treat menopause symptoms. Nelson's lawyers showed the jury evidence that that Wyeth, the New Jersey based drug maker, knew the drug could cause cancer. Wyeth never warned patients about the risk. The drug is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is still on the market.

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$400,000 in malfunctioning implant case

A Rhode Island man received a $400,000 award from a jury after his penile implant malfunctioned for an extended period of time. Charles Lennon claimed years of physical and emotional discomfort as a result of a poorly functioning implant that limited his social interactions and caused him to become withdrawn even from his family.

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$47.5 Million Verdict Against Merck in Recent Vioxx Trial

Frederick Humeston suffered a heart attack after taking the pain medication Vioxx that is manufactured by Merck. Frederick and his wife Mary were awarded $47.5 million after a jury concluded Merck failed to warn physicians of the dangerous sided affects related to Vioxx. The award breaks down to $18 million in compensatory damages, $27.5 million in punitive damages and $2 million specifically awarded to Mary for loss of consortium.

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U-Haul to Pay $2.5 Million for Not Telling Renters How to Use Trailer

A U.S. District Court has ordered U-Haul Company to pay $2.5 million to three people who were injured when their SUV flipped over while pulling a U-Haul trailer. Christian and Mindy Strong and Brian Hunzicker claimed in a Massachusetts lawsuit against U-Haul that the company had failed to warn them to stay within a 45-mph speed limit and had failed to show them how to use the trailer. They also claimed that the trailer was defective. Christian Strong broke two wrists in the incident and Hunzicker sustained minor injuries, but Mindy Strong incurred a broken back, a lacerated liver and brain trauma that left her with cognitive and memory deficiencies.

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Perdue Chicken Pays $400,000 for Man's Digestive and Nerve Injuries

Perdue Chicken, Shop Rite grocery stores, and Wakefern Food Co., Shop Rite's parent company, have agreed in a Connecticut court settlement to pay Paul Selens of Norwich, CT $400,000 for inadvertently ingesting a plastic tag on a pre-cooked Perdue rotisserie chicken in 2003. The tag reportedly lodged in Selens's intestine, causing a bowel obstruction that led to permanent nerve damage and damage to his digestive system. The tags had been the subject of a prior lawsuit, and Perdue had reportedly told Shop Rite to remove the tags. Selens spent 20 days in intensive care and now walks with a cane.

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$3.6 million in wrongful death case

A jury awarded $3.6 million to the wife of a police officer whose bulletproof vest allegedly did not perform as it should have. Police officer Tony Zeppetella died after being repeatedly shot in a police incident. Zeppetella's wife claimed that the bulletproof vest he wore did not do its job. The jury decided that Second Chance Body Armor Inc., the maker of the vest, and Toyobo Co. Ltd., the Japanese company that supplied the vest's synthetic fibers, failed to properly warn about the potential for deterioration in their product over time.

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$4.2 million award in forklift death

A Maine woman received a $4.2 million jury award after her husband was killed in a forklift accident. Claire Brown argued that her husband died after the forklift's manufacturer failed to notify him of a design flaw. Thomas Brown died after getting caught between the forklift's console and a horizontal shelf.

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$300,000 verdict in fen-phen case

A jury awarded a Pennsylvania woman $300,000 after she sustained illness from taking the diet drug fen-phen. Jodi Wier sued Wyeth Laboratories after she took fen-phen for three months in 1996. According to the jury, the drug caused Wier to develop primary pulmonary hypertension.

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$2 million award for lawnmower accident

A couple whose 4-year-old son was killed in a lawnmower accident received a $2 million award from a jury. The jury determined that the tool's manufacturer was liable for the child's injury after he was killed at his daycare center.

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$3.5 million award for bicycle injuries

A man injured when he was thrown from a defective mountain bike as a teenager was awarded $3.5 million in damages. Nathan Resch suffered facial injuries and brain trauma when he hit the pavement face-first after the front suspension separated from the frame of his bicycle. The defect was known and a product recall had been issued, but Resch had been unable to get the bicycle repaired because the shop didn't have the replacement part in stock.

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$3.6 million watercraft award upheld

A court of appeals upheld a $3.6 million verdict to a woman injured in a 2001 watercraft accident. Susan Ford was a passenger on the watercraft when she fell off and was severely injured by the high-pressure stream of water coming from under the craft, permanently damaging her intestinal tract. Ford's defective design claim prevailed and the court ruled that the claim was not barred by assumption of the risk provisions associated with inherently dangerous sports because the company could have alleviated the danger associated with the design without significantly altering the nature of the sport.

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