Product Liability

Design & Manufacturing Defects

Product liability litigation has always been a core part of our firm. We have always favored attorneys with scientific backgrounds, such as engineering, chemistry, physics, mathematics and biotechnology. Our love of product liability law stems from our appreciation of the fact that the solutions to the technological problems faced by society are forged in courtrooms. The founder of the firm, is a chemical engineer, and other attorneys in the firm have engineering and scientific training.

Our product liability experience covers a vast array of products. With our engineering acumen and our knowledge of human factors, warnings, engineering materials (including metallurgy), design principles and our ability to interface effectively with experts, we have a distinctive advantage when litigating product claims.

We have tremendous experience in utilizing expert witnesses to reconstruct accidents, and in the context of product liability claims, this can prove essential to the outcome of the case, for bringing a court or jury to the point where they actually understand the biomechanics and human factors issues related to the use of a product, or the injuries that can be sustained while engaging in activities that involve the use of various products, is an essential ingredient of effective advocacy.

We understand the regulatory standards that apply on a mandatory and non-mandatory basis to the design of products. Many of these standards governing product design and manufacture are found in the ASTM, SAE and ASME standards, as well as FDA, FAA and other regulatory agency rules.

Working With Expert Witnesses

The key to nearly every product liability claim is the effective use of expert witnesses to educate the jury and the court. Part of this art includes understanding enough about a product or concept to make intelligent decisions regarding how to select the experts and what to ask of them in connection with presenting their opinions. Knowing which tests to perform, how to depict those tests and how to explain them to a jury is the job of the attorney more than the expert, but this is a highly collaborative process. The best experts know something about the trial process, but the best lawyers do not rely upon those experts for trial presentation knowledge.

Deposing expert witnesses

The most important part of working with experts and defending against adverse expert testimony is to fully understand the evolving rules of evidence that control the admissibility of expert testimony. Deposing experts is an art that requires a merger of expert knowledge, input from one’s own experts and an intimate knowledge of the scientific principles involved in a case.

Liability Theories

The primary theories of product liability we have litigated include:

  • Strict product liability under Restatement Section 402A (defective & unreasonably dangerous)
  • Strict product liability under Restatement Section 402B (misrepresentation)
  • Negligent design and manufacture
  • Failure to warn (often a basis for strict liability or a separate claim)
  • Breach of implied waranties of fitness and merchantability
  • Breach of express warranty
  • Consumer protection act claims
  • Racketeering (RICO) claims


The damages we have litigated in product liability claims, including subrogation actions and personal injury and property damage claims, includes:

  • Personal injuries:
    • Lacerations
    • Lung damage
    • Brain injuries
    • Burns
    • Electrocutions
    • Amputations
  • Property damage claims:
    • Water damage
    • Fires and explosions, with smoke damage
    • Chemical contamination, including toxins
    • Overheating of electronic components
    • Soil contamination due to container failures
    • Magnetic damage

Kinds of Products

A few examples of the kinds of products we have litigated include:

  • Helmet & protective equipment litigation
  • Seat belt and vehicle crashworthiness cases:
    • Restraint system cases
    • Buckle design cases
    • Inadvertent door release permitting passenger ejection
  • Control mechanism defects
  • Computer and software defects:
    • Operating system defects
    • Custom software defects
    • Shrink-wrap software defects
    • Storage system defects
  • Heavy equipment falling object protection (FOPS) and rollover protection (ROPS) systems
  • Defective guard cases
  • Steel building cases
  • Kill-switch and “dead man switch” cases on equipments and snowmobiles
  • All terrain vehicle (ATV) cases
  • Pump failures
  • Metallurgical failures
  • Flame resistance failures
  • Food flavoring and food poisoning cases
  • Environmental contamination from coatings and chemicals
  • Forklift cases
  • Equipment and truck step cases
  • Power tool cases:
    • Power saws
    • Lawnmowers
    • Hydraulic presses
    • Paper processing equipment
    • Conveyor belts
    • Drills
    • Nail guns
  • Electric and gas powered heaters and stoves
  • Pinch-point cases
  • Lawnmower cases
  • Gas grill cases
  • Appliance cases:
    • Refrigerators
    • Stoves
    • Electric skillets and grills
    • Wiring components
    • Metal oxide varisters
    • Power strips

From the above list, which is not all-inclusive, it is easy to observe that Godfrey | Johnson, P.C. possesses vast experience in nearly all kinds of product liability disputes and related issues, including the design of preventive measures and the evaluation of risk-management guidelines and procedures designed to prevent injury. We also have substantial experience acting as national counsel for a number of manufacturers and insurers.

The key to success in litigation is to be realistic and careful in terms of how a "win" is defined under the circumstances of any given dispute. No two cases are exactly alike. Remember that no attorney or firm can guarantee success according to any arbitrary standard or in terms of a favorable result at trial. Whether or not to try a case or settle a case is a decision a client makes with the advise of an attorney, and no attorney can guarantee anything about the outcome of a civil case. Any case, tried to a jury or a court, might be resolved unfavorably. Trials are inherently unpredictable. Statements contained on this website regarding the ability of the professionals at Godfrey | Johnson, P.C., are based upon good faith perceptions of our abilities demonstrated over years of practice, and are not intended to imply that the attorneys have never lost a case or that we can assure that any particular case will be won at trial or on motions. The best way to evaluate any case is to communicate about it in depth with qualified legal counsel, providing all relevant information to the attorney. It is dangerous to withhold facts from an attorney, and can lead to the delivery of legal advise that is fundamentally flawed. No attorney can prevent this from happening, as attorneys all must rely to some extent upon the information that is provided to them by their clients. The best way to evaluate an attorney is by that attorney's track record, and ours is open for discussion in any specific field. Our abilities as described on this website are based upon experience in actual cases, which have been successful more often than not. ©2015 Godfrey | Johnson, P.C. All rights reserved.