Recently, the team at Broussard & Hart, LLC won a $23 million product liability verdict for the family of a young man who was tragically killed in a boating accident. No amount of compensation can ever truly compensate a parent for the loss of a child; however, the victory accomplished more than providing compensation to the survivors. Winning a product liability lawsuit holds the defendant legally responsible for allowing a defective product to enter the marketplace. Our hope is that by holding the defendant legally responsible for causing a death it may prevent another family from losing a child in the future.
The recent victory in the case of Ron Warren, individually and on behalf of the estate of Derek Hebert vs. Teleflex, Inc,, was the result of a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the surviving family members of Derek Hebert. Derek was a 20 year old college student who was heading to celebrate Contraband Days on Lake Charles in a 21 foot boat on May 7, 2005. Evidence presented at trial showed that the boat took a sudden and violent turn to the left which caused Derek and several other passengers to be thrown overboard. Sadly, Derek was almost immediately run over by the propeller of the boat, causing fatal injuries.
Derek’s father, Ron Warren, chose to pursue a product liability lawsuit against Teleflex, Inc., the company that manufactured the vessel’s steering system. The basis of the lawsuit was that Teleflex failed to warn users of a deadly risk that was not obvious, that being the fact that if the steering system lost as little as three teaspoons of steering fluid the driver could completely lose control of the boat. The loss of control could cause occupants of the boat to be ejected and thrown overboard, causing fatal injuries as was the case with Derek Hebert.
The case was originally tried in 2014 with a verdict for the defense; however, Plaintiff’s attorneys appealed that verdict on the grounds that Teleflex misled the court on the applicability of a 2006 owner’s manuals to the involved 1998 product. A new trial was granted. At the new trial, the Plaintiffs were victorious, winning $125,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $23 million in punitive damages. Because the case was brought under general maritime law, punitive damages were available if the defendant acted with “wanton and reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others.”
If you believe that you have been injured, or you have lost someone, as a result of a product liability accident, contact the Louisiana product liability personal injury attorneys at Broussard & Hart, LLC by calling 866-281-4774 to schedule your free consultation today.