Product liability claims are nothing new in the United States. They are generally filed by consumers who have had a bad experience at the fault of a company or faulty product. These cases help companies stay at the top of their game when it comes to quality and safety. If an American consumer experiences anything less than that, they have the right (and even the responsibility, some would say) to file a claim.
Just five years ago, Toyota cars underwent a huge recall because of a lack of a fail-safe mechanism. The idea behind the mechanism is for the car to only respond to the brake pedal, even if the accelerator is being triggered, therefore decreasing the chances of an accident significantly - even if the accelerator is malfunctioning. This fail-safe mechanism was somehow not added to many of Toyota's cars, causing one of the most notable liability lawsuits in recent history. Toyota paid more than $1 billion to settle.
Dow Corning silicone breast implants
Numerous cases of the rupturing of breast implants from Dow Corning caused a lawsuit in 1998. It was claimed that these ruptures caused injuries, damage to the body, scleroderma, and even death. Dow Corning paid $2 billion total to settle.
General Motots car parts
In 1999, General Motors underwent some heat for its 1979 Chevrolet Malibu gas tanks. These gas tanks were faulty and actually exploded, killing six different people. GM ended up paying punitive damages of a whopping $4.9 billion.
Believe it or not, McDonald's was actually sued in 1994 for serving its coffee too hot. Stella Liebeck spilled her newly purchased coffee onto her lap accidentally, giving her third-degree burns. She sued McDonald's by claiming they were serving it at a temperature of 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit rather than the more typical and reasonable 140 degrees Fahrenheit that is found at other restaurants. Liebeck won and received $2.7 million in punitive damages, as well as $160,000 in medical expenses.
Philip Morris tobacco
As recently as 2002, a woman diagnosed with lung cancer attributed it to her smoking and addiction to tobacco. By claiming that her habits were a direct result of the company not adequately warning her of the risks present with smoking cigarettes, she received punitive damages of $28 million, plus $850,000 of compensatory damages.
Owens Corning asbestos building material
In late 1998 several product liability lawsuits claimed that the asbestos building materials provided by Owens Corning were the cause of mesothelioma cancer, and therefore death. More than 175,000 people were involved, and the company settled for $1.2 billion.