Product Liability in Michigan is here!

I'm happy to announce that my book, Product Liability in Michigan, is officially available! The electronic book seller links will be available in the next couple days (Amazon, B&N, and the like), but you can buy directly through the link above starting today.

This book started out as a pile of loose leaf papers in my desk drawer and it has really taken on a life of its own. I never imagined it would grow into the 182 page comprehensive guide that it is today. Practitioners will find not only an exhaustive guide to Michigan product liability, but also extensive discussion of ancillary issues that frequently come up in products cases. The book provides a starting point to practitioners on a number of these issues, irrespective of the type of case. Just a few examples:

  • Pleading standards in federal and state cases;
  • Procedural issues, including personal jurisdiction,  forum non conveniens, applicable statutes of limitation, and conflicts of law;
  • Common discovery issues like protective orders, the scope of discovery, and obtaining discovery out of state; and
  • The use of experts and Daubert standards in Michigan and the Sixth Circuit.

The table of contents gives an of what can be found inside. If you have a Michigan products case, a products case that touches Michigan law or Michigan companies, or a Michigan case with complex procedural issues, this book likely can get you off and running. 

Much of this work came from my own cases, with the balance coming from my own independent research. It has been enormously enriching for me and I hope that you get as much out of it reading as I did writing. Feel free to get in touch with your questions, comments, or suggestions.

Without further ado, you can buy the book here:

When is a product recall a good thing?

When is a product recall a good thing?

It may surprise you that I still patronize Starbucks. Although I'm a self-proclaimed fighter for the little guy, frequently play the part of David in his feature battle with the Goliath corporation of the week, and don't particularly like Starbucks coffee, I do really enjoy the iced coffee. I'm an infamous advocate of Zingerman's Coffee (a company local to me worth checking out if you're ever around Ann Arbor or see their stuff in a grocery store near you), but not even the scandalous revelation that Starbucks waters their iced coffee down with ice has kept me away.

The other day, I saw a recall notice on the counter for the stainless steel straws that came with some of Starbuck's cold drink containers. The convenient, washable, reusable device also turns out to be a hazard to our younger generation, who are more fall/crash/accident prone and likely to be hurt by the rigid steel straw.

Tesla accident showcases new tech, old problems

Sometimes I find myself amazed at how quickly things change. You probably have had the same sensation in your own life watching the internet take off, your kids grow up, or the seasons change. What might be more amazing, at least from my view, is how much stays the same.

For product liability advocates and attorneys around the country worrying that the advancements in automotive safety are going to put them out of a job, let me reassure you: some things never change. Exhibit A is the Tesla Model S, a terrific vehicle equipped with a feature called “Autopilot.” Full disclosure: Nothing makes me want to buy a new car more than watching Youtube videos of people in a shiny new Tesla reading the newspaper and playing Jenga while their car dispassionately handles their morning commute.

Real life lessons from the litigation of a fireworks case

Fireworks are dangerous as hell; they really are. What makes them worse, is that ordinary users have no way of figuring out whether the ‘good stuff’ they were sold at the store is a legal firework, or is good because it contains an inappropriate amount of explosive composition.

Most fireworks can hurt you, but the government places limits on the amount of pyrotechnic material permitted. This means that many injuries are not as bad as they could be. It certainly doesn’t mean that a legal firework is safe, and Detroiters need look no further than local newsman Dave Rexroth for a reminder of just how dangerous they are (Rexroth lost his eye in a fireworks related injury, for those out of town).

The danger is compounded when the fireworks aren’t legal. It turns out that there is a lot of this going around—my case involved a firework that contained over 200 times the amount of flash composition, the hand injury it inflicted was absolutely catastrophic. Because of that fact, we were able to obtain a very good settlement for a family that could really use it. That said, I don't know many people who would take money for the use of their hand. 

 Inert sky rocket prepared for trial. 

Inert sky rocket prepared for trial. 

Over the course of the case I analyzed a lot of other fireworks injuries and saw a lot of data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which collects and analyzes data on fireworks injuries. Here are some lessons that we can all put to use this weekend:

  1. Don’t screw around with the fireworks. Make sure they aren’t directed at or above people. Light them with a BBQ style lighter or a torch designed for the job. Get away.
  2. Whatever you do, don’t take them apart. The stuff inside a firework doesn’t always act like you think it will, and it doesn’t always act the same after exposure to oxygen than it would while enclosed. You’re not a fireworks designer; don’t test out your high school chemistry.
  3. If you do happen to be one of the 12,000 or so people who end up in the ED every year with a fireworks injury and you think you have a lawsuit, it won’t be easy. Even if there was something wrong with your firework, the manufacturer is in China and the importer is often difficult to find. Michigan law makes suing importers and retailers extremely difficult and even if you can, they will blame you and your conduct for your injuries.

So bottom line: Be careful this Fourth of July and have a good—safe—time.