Safety is of the utmost importance with every product anyone buys. American citizens have the right to purchase a product and use it reasonably within its means and not worry about death or dismemberment. In fact to establish a system contrary to this right would invariably lead to a society constantly suffering injury.
It is this right which is so strongly believed and upheld that on June 7, 2011 $30 million was awarded to a plaintiff who was injured in a disturbing boating accident. The amount was awarded by a Butte County jury who were able to not only sympathize with the plaintiff but understood the importance their award. This award acts not only as a means of compensation but also as a deterrent to other companies from making similar mistakes.
The public requires the company whom the ruling was issued against, MasterCraft Boat Co., to be held to the same standards as any individual; which is that they are not allowed to take actions that kill or mutilate anyone.
Occasionally there are public outcries of placing caps on awards. One argument for a cap may be that no one deserves an award of $30 million, but let us look at the facts. The day of the accident both Niki Bell and Bethany Wallenburg had been enjoying a nice day out at Lake Oroville. They were with a group of friends some of which were wakeboarding. When the boat made a slow turn at roughly 4mph to retrieve a wakeboarder in the water the bow of the boat dipped taking on water. Both plaintiffs then found themselves in the lake and as the boat continued its turn a propeller tore out the eye of Ms.Bell and carved her skull open penetrating her brain while Ms.Wallenberg was left with severe back lacerations and scars.
Such a painful incident isn’t awarded an amount of money based solely on compensation but also for punishment and protection of US citizens. It is obvious that such a travesty should be compensated but it is equally obvious that it should be prevented from ever happening again.
When a business fails to leave the public unharmed from its products it is failing a responsibility. If liability were removed completely we would be living in a world where any product could have the lethality of a hand grenade.
Capping awards the hinders the ability for the public to protect the public. With a cap the sanctity of human life is reduced to a number. It becomes an equation which reads: If I produce a product that kills or dismembers consumers how many people will have to die or be dismembered for my product to not be profitable? This is a problem because as long as profits out weigh the costs of paying death and disfiguration penalties the product will be made and the public will continue to suffer.
The liability for this accident was deemed to lay 80% with the manufacturer MasterCraft and they have paid a price but they have also performed a cruel form of public service. Through this verdict they have announced that it is in fact a crime to not properly engineer a product and that a heavy price will be paid for failing to perform adequate testing and research. In our country justice and liberty isn’t just for the brave, it is for all.
A full article can be found here: Jury Awards $30 Million to Chico Woman for Boat Accident
Our law firm does not represent anybody in this incident. The commentary is for educational purposes only. If you or someone you know has been injured by a product or would like to speak to someone about your rights, contact our lawyers for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours. Call Toll Free 866-414-0400.