Legal Radar has a post about an unusual defect in a critically important product. Apparently, this protective vest would not have fared well in the Florida climate. You might ask the question, how could a manufacturer send this out into the marketplace?
A wrongful death suit was filed…against Second Chance Body Armor, Inc. and Toyobo Co. Ltd, manufacturers of the protective vest that allowed one of the 13 bullets fired at him to penetrate his chest. The suit claimed that the companies were aware that the vest’s ability to stop bullets deteriorated with exposure to heat, humidity and light, and the companies did not let their customers know.
The post reminds us that some defects can have catastrophic consequences. For example, the laptop batteries that burst into flames could burn down a house and kill its occupants. Obviously, a brake failure on a tractor-trailer rig could kill the driver and other motorists. Over my career I have seen the tip-over of a chest of drawers that killed a toddler, the seat belt failure that resulted in brain damage to the ejected driver, the automatic blood pressure cuff that rendered an arm useless, the incubator that overheated and killed an infant and other similar tragedies.
When the product fails to do the one thing it is intended to do, such as, to stop a bullet, and death or serious injury is the result, it seems that punitive damages should be permitted.