RC2, the company that manufactures toys modeled after the popular Thomas the Tank Engine television series, recently reached a $30 million settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed after it was discovered that about 1.5 million of the toys were coated with lead based paint. As many of you know by now, lead is an incredibly dangerous material. Lead dust can get into the bloodstream, where it collects and causes extreme damage, or even death.
As part of the settlement, RC2 offered either cash or replacement toys. They also put new quality controls in place to help prevent a similar disaster from occurring in the future.
RC2 served as a perfect example of how a business should behave when they put out faulty products. The recall took place in June, and the settlement was reached in January. Six months to settle is, at least in terms of the legal profession, an extraordinarily brief amount of time. It essentially meant that RC2’s attorneys must have been under orders to settle as soon as possible. They also voluntarily took matters into their own hands to improve quality control.
It isn’t always this easy.
Back when things used to be made by craftsmen, it was a lot easier to determine who was responsible for a bad or dangerous product. People used to buy carriages, clothing, or barrels from people who made the products themselves. If word got out that they were selling shoddy or dangerous goods, people simply wouldn’t buy from that person anymore.
But the manufacturing process is a lot more complex these days. Products are designed by one person or group of people, and the manufacturing is done in factories that involve assembly lines or impersonal machines. Figuring out who was responsible for the factor that makes a product dangerous is increasingly difficult. For instance, was it a design flaw? Was there something inherent in the way the product was conceived that made it dangerous? Was the product improperly manufactured? Did the company responsible for the manufacture of the product cut corners and alter the way the product was made? Was the product marketed in such a way that it would be used for different and dangerous purposes?
When a product liability suit is filed, it’s almost certain that the designer, the marketer and the manufacturer will all be blaming each other, and all of them will have lawyers that will fight vigorously to prove that this is the case. What usually follows is litigation that can last for years, as the well compensated defense attorneys “grind it out,” or stall, delay and file motions for every conceivable reason. They do this in the hopes of wearing the plaintiffs down to the point where they will accept a settlement that is worth considerably less than they should be getting, or just give up entirely.
This is what makes the RC2 settlement so extraordinary. This corporation should be lauded for accepting responsibility and making things right in such a timely fashion. After all, this is really anyone who gets injured from a bad product wants.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a faulty product, contact our offices for a free legal consultation today.