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Make Sure The Instructions On Your Products Tell The Whole Story


Let’s say that your business sells a product. You get the product from overseas, or from a separate manufacturer. The product is generally safe, but if used improperly, could cause harm. Or, it’s a product that is meant to protect from harm, like a pool gate, or protective eyewear. So long as the end user consumer uses the product the way it’s supposed to be used, the product should do its job and be safe.

What About Instructions?

But have you given any thought to the instructions that are given to consumers as to how to properly use your product?

Not every product you sell is intuitive to the end user consumer. The things you sell may have instructions, but have you looked at them, to ensure that the insertions are correct, and that they are clear enough for consumers to understand?

3M Gets Sued

This is the exact problem that is currently costing earplug manufacturer 3M millions of dollars, because of numerous lawsuits that have been filed against them. How can earplugs be dangerous? They can if they don’t work, and if the end use consumers are US military members, who are depending on the earpieces to guard from hearing loss.

The core problem is that to work effectively, the earpieces have a piece of plastic that has to be folded a certain way, in order to work.

Now, soldiers are suing 3M in class action lawsuits, and winning millions, not because the earpieces didn’t work—they did—but because the instructions or directions provided with them were unclear on how to use them the right way. As a result, the soldiers did not use them the right way, and suffered tinnitus and hearing loss.

Essentially, the 3M cases are about bad directions—an area of liability that many businesses don’t give much thought to, especially when shipping products from overseas, where directions on the proper use of products may be vague, ambiguous, or not included at all.

3M is also being held liable for failures to warn about possible dangers of misuse of the product. This is especially important, because when the earplugs malfunctioned, the user often wasn’t aware that they were not guarding against potential dangers to the soldier’s ear.

There have been multiple cases, and some have found some liability on behalf of the soldiers, for failing to use the ear plugs correctly. However, in most cases, 3M has been hit with 7-figure verdicts for soldiers’ hearing losses.

The Government Can Come After You as Well

All these lawsuits stemmed from a government investigation into the ear plus—another lesson for business owners that if your product is defective, or doesn’t have proper warnings, that it isn’t just private Plaintiffs that can go after you—the government can as well.

Call the West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig if your business is sued or you have a business litigation case.




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