For over forty years, asbestos litigation has been a part of the American judicial landscape. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that has been used in building materials for many years, often for insulation. While nearly everyone in the U.S. has been exposed to asbestos at some time, many people who are exposed to asbestos over a long period of time have become ill.
In some product liability actions, such as asbestos and breast implant litigation, a known risk of the defective product is an increased risk of cancer. As a result of the litigation concerning the products, plaintiffs or potential plaintiffs may become fearful of developing cancer. Even if they never do develop cancer, a number of courts have allowed these plaintiffs to recover damages for “fear of cancer.”
In many product liability cases, the plaintiff alleges that a design defect was responsible for the injuries incurred. For example, in a product liability case alleging that a car’s gas tank exploded in rear-end collisions, the plaintiff would allege that the car was defectively designed. In these types of cases, some courts have established a “reasonable design alternative” test. Under this test, a product is defective in design when the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the product could have been reduced or avoided by the adoption of a reasonable alternative design by the seller or other distributor and the omission of the alternative design renders the product not reasonably safe.
The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (Act) regulates foods, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics. The Act established the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has responsibility to assure that new drugs are safe and effective.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the government agency responsible for motor vehicle safety, is responsible for the administration of national safety recalls by manufacturers or distributors of motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment. The NHTSA is required to initiate the safety recall process when a safety defect or noncompliance with a federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) has been determined. The NHTSA also investigated alleged safety defects and tests vehicles for noncompliance with FMVSS.
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