Our products cases have included cases involving commercial disputes as well as catastrophic injury, wrongful death, property damage and personal injury matters. Our trial attorneys have successfully negotiated the settlement of numerous cases in addition to trying a variety of complex cases.
Our extensive client base ranges from Fortune 500 companies and insurers to public and privately held manufacturers, distributors and service firms. In addition to manufacturers, our clients also include construction contractors, property owners and managers as well as owners and operators of equipment or products, including amusement ride operators and commercial motor vehicle carriers.
In addition to representing U.S. product manufacturers, our attorneys represent European and Asian product manufacturers in their lawsuits throughout the United States.
Representative products we have defended on behalf of our clients include:
- Aerospace Products
- Agricultural Equipment
- Alarms and Security Systems
- Amusement Rides
- Bakery Equipment and other Food Equipment
- Child Car Seats
- Construction Equipment
- Electric Motors
- Escalators and Elevators
- Fall Protection Equipment
- Food Flavorings
- Food Products
- Glass, Paints and Coatings
- Hazardous Waste Containers
- Heating/Air-Conditioning/Ventilation Equipment
- Household Products
- Industrial Machinery
- Lift Equipment
- Medical Devices
- Outdoor Power Equipment
- Petroleum Products
- Power Tools
- Scaffold Equipment
- Welding Equipment
Hinshaw’s highly skilled trial attorneys are recognized for their ability to handle litigation in a variety of jurisdictions as well as in regional or national forums. They frequently defend products liability class actions and multi-district litigation. They serve as national and regional trial counsel for companies; and act as national product liability supervisory counsel for consortiums of companies. They have successfully defended against efforts to certify plaintiff classes in a wide variety of cases across the country.
Hinshaw's attorneys are highly familiar with the plaintiffs’ bar’s products experts, and have deposed or cross-examined some of them dozens of times across the country. Additionally, the firm's attorneys know and utilize the world’s best experts in many different fields to create the best defense for our clients. Hinshaw's attorneys understand the special requirements and expectations of loss prevention managers, corporate risk specialists, corporate counsel and claims managers, and we routinely implement budgeting, communications and cost-containment criteria to satisfy the most demanding clients.
Also, more and more, as product liability problems expand beyond civil litigation, our attorneys regularly counsel clients in the full spectrum of legal issues arising from product manufacturing and distribution, including development of product literature and labeling content, management of product recalls, and drafting of sales and distribution agreements and related contract documents.
Representative products liability cases handled by Hinshaw are as follows:
- Obtained a jury verdict in favor of Rudd Industries, which manufactured an FAA air traffic controller chair. The plaintiff contended that an adjustable height control mechanism for the air traffic controller’s chair (manufactured in Germany and distributed by a company in the Netherlands) malfunctioned, allegedly causing the chair to rapidly descend and cause a back injury that the plaintiff claimed prevented him from returning to work as an air traffic controller. Third-party actions for contribution were filed in that matter against the foreign manufacturer and distributor of the failed component part.
- Obtained a jury verdict in favor of Evenflo Company in an alleged brain injury case to a four-year-old child resulting from an alleged defective child car seat. The jury was asked to determine the crash worthiness of the child restraint system; misuse by the mother; and causation and damages.
- Obtained a verdict in favor of Walgreen Co. in an action brought for a misfilled prescription wherein the plaintiff alleged brain injury resulting in total and complete cognitive impairment. A claim for punitive damages was allowed to be heard by the jury. The initial demand was $200 million. An appeal was not filed.
- Represented Lucent Technologies, Inc. in a products liability action to recover approximately $33 million for property damage to a Class I Clean Room and losses to production of semi-conductor wafers against manufacturers of two faulty valves resulting in the release of hydrochloric acid within the Clean Room. The case settled for $25 million before the trial was set to commence in September 2005.
- Represented the The Upjohn Company in Northern Trust v. Upjohn Company. The plaintiff, a woman, underwent an abortion procedure at a Chicago hospital. During the procedure, she sustained permanent brain damage as a result of cardiopulmonary arrest. Her claim included allegations of medical malpractice against the treating physician and hospital, and product liability against The Upjohn Company. After six weeks of trial and one week of jury deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of $9.5 million against all defendants. On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the decision and entered judgment in favor of all the defendants. The appellate decision established new law in Illinois that expert testimony is required on drug product liability warnings cases and reiterated that changes in packet inserts after an incident are inadmissible.
- Represented Maren Engineering in Walters v. Maren Engineering in which an employee at a Kansas paper recycling company severely injured his hand in an altered and modified recycling machine. A choice of law motion filed on the eve of trial resulted in the application of Kansas’ several liability law. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s application of foreign law, and Kansas practitioners use this case as an example of the requirements for advancing a several liability and phantom defendant defense.
- Represented Astro Amusement Company in Roland v. Astro Amusement Company. The plaintiff, a 45-year-old U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, sustained a frontal lobotomy injury after he walked around protective fencing and into the path of a fully operating amusement ride. The demand on the case was $2 million; the offer on the case included a structured settlement package valued at $400,000. After a three-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in two hours in favor of all the defendants. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's evidentiary rulings concerning demonstrative evidence used by the defendants and reinterpreted Illinois law on the duty owed to trespassers.
- Represented Westinghouse in Stojkovich v. Westinghouse. An inebriated passenger escaped out of a stalled elevator car, fell down the shaft, and sustained significant traumatic head injury. Although the defendant’s New York vice-president criticized the local elevator maintenance manager, calling his supervision of the elevator maintenance services “negligent,” the jury only assessed 25 percent responsibility on the elevator service company. The defense’s pre-trial and trial objections to allowing punitive damages claim were upheld on appeal. The appellate decision established standards of review for trial court evidentiary and non-evidentiary hearings on appropriateness of a punitive damages claim.
- Obtained a favorable verdict on behalf of Whirlwind in a case in which the plaintiff, a chronically unemployed individual being trained for new work, had his hand amputated in an industrial work saw at a training center. A policy limits demand was made on the product manufacturer, who maintained that he would rather have his family business go bankrupt than pay the plaintiff anything. The defense claimed the plaintiff was not entitled to an award because of his assumption of risk as well as faulty training and maintenance by the plaintiff's employer.
- Represented Holloway Equipment Ltd. in a commercial motor vehicle accident case in which the plaintiff sustained disabling leg injuries after being crushed by a Canadian truck driver’s nine axle low boy trailer as it was being loaded. Although the company client was no longer in operation and the truck driver could not be located for deposition or trial testimony, the jury was convinced that the accident was caused either by the contributory negligence of the plaintiff or the combined negligence of two third-party defendants who settled directly with the plaintiff before and during the trial.
- Obtained a favorable jury verdict on behalf of the doctor in Krause v. DuPont and Dr. Greaves. The minor plaintiff in this malpractice case was born prematurely with intraventricular hemorrhage, and subsequently developed cerebral palsy and other serious medical conditions. The plaintiff’s case blamed these conditions on the drug Coumadin, taken by the mother during her first trimester of pregnancy and prescribed by the family physician represented by Hinshaw. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to warn of the drug’s harmful effects in early pregnancy and sought more than $2.5 million in damages. The drug manufacturer and other defendants settled before trial. Dr. Greaves was the sole defendant remaining at trial.
- Represented General Electric in Professional Properties v. General Electric. An Alton, Ill., office building owned by the plaintiff was destroyed by a fire that began in a deep fat fryer manufactured by General Electric. The plaintiff alleged that the fryer overheated and caused the fire due to defective wiring. The undisputed property loss resulted in stipulated damages of $550,000. The case was tried on the sole issue of liability, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client.
- Represented the distributor, Sears, in O’Leary v. SEARS and Chilton Corp. The plaintiff, a child, was severely burned when a gas can he was using near an open flame exploded. Sears, the distributor of the gas can that was manufactured to its specifications, was named a defendant against defect allegations for the can’s lack of a flame impingement screen. The plaintiff’s damages demand remained constant at $7 million up until the time of trial. Hinshaw ultimately achieved a settlement of $1.5 million for our client; the co-defendant paid $2 million.
- Represented the manufacturer in Greer v. McDonough Manufacturing Company in which the plaintiff claimed an industrial resaw was improperly guarded under the ANSI standards. The plaintiff was employed in a pallet company as a laborer either flipping or stacking wood. He alleged that a piece of wood was stuck in the resaw and that he had been instructed on how to pull or align the wood so it would catch. In performing this maneuver, his right hand was pulled into the rollers and to the blade resulting in amputation of two digits on his right hand and significant disfiguring and disabling injuries to tendons and muscles. The plaintiff sought $1.2 million from the jury. The jury returned a verdict of $60,000, but assessed 95 percent of the fault to the plaintiff and 5 percent to defendant, resulting in a verdict of $3,050. A motion for a new trial on damages was denied.
- Obtained a jury verdict in favor of QT&T in Choura v. QT&T, Inc. The plaintiff claimed that a telephone manufactured by our client was unreasonably dangerous. The plaintiff claimed hearing loss as a result of a loud ring that came through the earpiece when the plaintiff was using the phone. The defense was handicapped since the only assets of the company were insurance due to a bankruptcy of the client several years prior to trial. No defense witnesses were available, and all defenses presented to the jury were necessarily made by way of cross-examination of the plaintiff and plaintiff's witnesses. The plaintiff asked for a verdict in the amount of $117,000.00 and verdict was rendered by the jury in favor of the defendant.
- On behalf of Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc., in a span of approximately 18 months, Hinshaw obtained summary judgment in five separate product liability actions involving wrongful death and personal injury claims allegedly resulting from defects in different products manufactured by Furnas Electric Co., a division of Siemens.
- Obtained a verdict in favor of Kokomo in a case claiming negligent manufacture of a tanning bed that collapsed on the plaintiff causing back and shoulder injuries. The demand before trial was $150,000.
In addition to Hinshaw’s significant products liability practice, many of our attorneys also defend manufacturers and other parties in property damage and personal injury claims and suits associated with toxic torts involving exposure to asbestos, pentachlorophenol, perchloroethylene, chlorinated solvents, hydrofluoric acid, Talon G and many other substances, both chemical and biological. Hinshaw's attorneys are highly familiar with the plaintiffs’ bar’s toxic tort experts, and have deposed or cross-examined some of them dozens of times across the country. Additionally, the firm's toxic tort attorneys know and utilize the world’s best experts in many different fields, including, for example, toxicology, epidemiology, immunology, neurology, neuropsychology, hydrology, meteorology, indoor air quality, mold and risk assessment. Hinshaw's attorneys have experience in defending clients in multi-district litigation proceedings and have successfully defended against efforts to certify plaintiff classes in a wide variety of environmental and toxic exposure cases across the country.
Finally, a subset of our products liability practice includes representation of major motor vehicle manufacturers in Magnuson Moss warranty claims and state lemon law cases across the country. In these types of matters, we currently represent BMW of North America, Mini of North America, Mercedes-Benz USA, Maserati North America, Maybach, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America, Gulf Stream Motor Coach and Tiffin Motor Homes as well as Subaru, Mitsubishi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Volvo, Mack Trucks, Mazda, Porsche and Gulf Stream Coach.