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Lawsuits claim wrongful death resulting from a defective product

Readers may recall the listeria outbreak linked to a Colorado cantaloupe farm. The contaminated produce reportedly caused 30 deaths, as well as illness in 140 other consumers. 

According to a recent article, most of the wrongful death lawsuits filed by surviving loved ones have resulted in settlements approved by a Denver District Court judge. Today's post explores some of the factors that may have been involved in those settlement negotiations. 

The sad truth is that defective products cause injuries to thousands of American consumers every year. Depending on the type of product, different regulations may be implicated. In the case of produce, two federal agencies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, set certain standards. Those regulations can serve as a reference to evaluate whether a product may have been unsafe.

However, in order to file a lawsuit against the responsible manufacturer or entity, a claim must typically be brought under state product liability laws. Injured consumers may allege theories such as negligence, breach of warranty or even strict liability, depending on the facts and type of product. 

In addition to liability, a typical wrongful death lawsuit also includes a request for damages. The amount of wrongful death recovery is based upon factors such as medical bills, lost wages, benefits to which the decedent would have been entitled, loss of companionship, and funeral and burial expenses.

The emotional impact of losing a loved one cannot be underestimated, which is why surviving loved ones should turn to the experience of a wrongful death attorney to help them hold a negligent produce handler, manufacturer and/or any other responsible parties accountable. With a civil lawsuit, the entities at fault will at least have to explain their conduct and answer questions under oath.

Source:  Insurance Journal, “Most Wrongful-Death Lawsuits in Colorado Listeria Outbreak Settled,” March 13, 2015

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