Naperville Product Liability Law Update: Defective Furniture Responsible for Thousands of Injuries

Most people pay little attention to the furniture in their homes or workplaces, expecting items such as tables and chairs to serve their intended purpose. However, the most basic pieces of furniture can sometimes be defective, causing serious injuries or even death. According to a 2011 study conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, unstable furniture was the cause of some 43,000 emergency room visits between 2008 and 2010. The culprits included items such as household chairs, office chairs, medical equipment chairs and beds, televisions, bar stools, bunk beds, and futons.

If you have been injured by defective furniture, you may have legal options in the area of product liability. Furniture manufacturers and retailers bear responsibility to consumers for the safe design and construction of their products. If a product is known to cause injury, these manufacturers and sellers are required by law to warn the public of potentially defective furniture. Retailers with a failure to warn of risks associated with their products are subject to heavy fines, as is the case with Office Depot.

Office Depot to Pay $3.4 Million Over Defective Chairs
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, mega-retailer Office Depot has agreed to civil penalties of $3.4 million in settlement regarding its failure to notify the agency of defects and safety risks concerning two types of chairs it sold. The two chairs, carrying the model names “Quantum” and “Gibson,” had defective seatbacks, which triggered serious back-related and other injuries among users. The CPSC advised that despite having received 14 notices of injuries resulting from the Quantum chair, Office Depot never notified the government agency about the hazardous item. It took a request from Office Depot’s own staff for the company to advise the CPSC about 25 injury complaints associated with the Gibson chair. Both items have since been recalled, but not before 1.4 Gibson chairs sold over a nine-year period, and 150,000 Quantum chairs sold during a three-year period. As part of the settlement, Office Depot must agree to and maintain a compliance program in keeping with CPSC policies regarding the reporting of hazardous products it sells or has sold.

Kmart, Martha Stewart Settle Litigation Involving Patio Chairs
In another matter, Kmart and its then-design partner Martha Stewart settled three different lawsuits involving a patio chair that caused permanent injury to users. The chair, sold under the Martha Stewart Living brand, lacked a bolt that would have given it needed stability. Instead, the chair’s legs in some instances snapped to the front, and led to hands and fingers being caught in the chair. One of the plaintiffs suffered the amputation of parts of two fingers, and lost the use of one of her hands.

Contact Attorney John J. Malm
John J. Malm & Associates has significant experience in representing clients who have been harmed by several types of defective chairs, ranging from movie theater seats, patio chairs, and medical equipment seating devices. If you have suffered injuries due to defective furniture, contact our office to speak with a knowledgeable injury attorney at John J. Malm & Associates.

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