Product liability lawsuit: woman was killed by humidifier cleaner

Product liability lawsuit: woman was killed by humidifier cleaner

As we wrote in our posts last week, health products on store shelves do not necessarily have the informed assurances of safety from the Food and Drug Administration. Many of the dietary supplements and health products we buy are allowed to be sold until or unless they prove to be dangerous. By that time, however, consumers may have already been harmed.

Another factor that makes it hard to regulate the safety of products is global trade. Products manufactured outside the United States by foreign companies are supposed to be held to U.S. safety standards, but regular inspection is a practical impossibility. Because of this, many dangerous products manufactured in other countries can easily make it onto store shelves.

Last month, a Southern California family filed a wrongful death and product liability lawsuit against a South Korean chemical manufacturing company. The lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges that one of the company's products, a chemical used to clean humidifiers, was responsible for the death of the plaintiffs' mother.

According to the complaint, the now-deceased woman began using the liquid humidifier cleaning product in 2005. Like most similar products, the liquid was meant to be poured into the humidifier along with water. It would later vaporize with the water.

The woman began experiencing respiratory issues in 2008 and was eventually diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. She died in 2011 due to complications caused by her respiratory illness.

The plaintiffs claim that the South Korean company knew that its product was dangerous because it had allegedly caused an injury and a death in South Korea in 2008. The product was banned domestically in 2011, but the "defendants kept distributing and selling the product in the United States even after they were actually aware that the product was defective and caused injury and after the product was banned in Korea."

With injuries related to long-term exposure, it can be difficult to draw a clear link between health problems and an allegedly defective product. In many cases, families may not even understand the connection themselves. When they do make the connection, however, it is understandable and appropriate for them to seek compensation from the negligent manufacturer.

Source: Courthouse News Service, " Mom's Death Blamed on Humidifier Cleaner," Elizabeth Warmerdam, Jan. 15, 2015

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