Product Liability + Recall
The total impact resulting from the four million cars in Australia and 320,000 in New Zealand reported to have Takata airbags installed is still to be determined. The Australian compulsory recall is one of the largest in the country’s history.
When products fail, manufacturers, importers, suppliers and retailers and the consumers that buy them, all suffer the consequences. The financial impact of mandatory reporting and compulsory or voluntary product recalls can be just the tip of the iceberg. Loss of brand value and reputation, and litigation from those injured and local suppliers, can be significant.
Our experience covers hundreds of different products across all primary industry sectors including automotive, pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer goods, food and beverage, mining, construction, life sciences and technology. Our team has been at the forefront of high-profile product liability class actions, such as those involving heart pace maker leads (Acufix) and the importation of milk containing excess levels of iodine (Bonsoy).
Our expert product recall lawyers, Robin Shute and Belinda Henningham, have more than 20 years’ experience working in product liability, managing some of Australia and New Zealand’s most complex and hard-fought product liability disputes, including class actions and crisis management. Understanding industry-specific insurance policies, how to work with regulatory authorities, and how to pursue recoveries along an increasingly complex and multi-national supply chain is essential.
Some of the cases that demonstrate how we have supported our clients strategically and cost-effectively are:
Food contamination and recall
Advising the recall insurer and its insured in the case of contaminated frozen berries that Australian regulatory authorities linked to an outbreak of Hepatitis A.
We also acted for the farm supplying eggs to the Australian retail market that allegedly caused a significant outbreak of salmonella.
$5 million+ oil product damage to a generator
Acting for the manufacturer of oil products against a $5 million+ claim for damage to a power station generator. The claim involved a complex supply chain, competing contractual terms, issues of jurisdiction and foreign law, and dual insurance.
Fitness for purpose of fuel
Successfully defending an Australasian petrol company in New Zealand High Court proceedings alleging a duty to advise on fitness for purpose of fuel provided for a race involving historical cars.
Bicycle component failure
Resolving at mediation in favour of our client, an international insurer, in a claim against the Taiwanese manufacturer of a mountain bike component that failed and resulted in a catastrophic brain damage claim. The claim tested the extra-territorial reach of Australian consumer protection laws, and involved choice of law issues, and expert evidence on the operation of contracts between entities in different countries.
Companies operating globally face great challenges navigating local laws in the areas of product regulation and compliance, health and safety, supply chain and distribution management, reputation and brand protection, and product liability and recall laws.
Our Legalign Global alliance offers clients an international solution with a multi-regional team experienced in all aspects of product liability laws and claims management across Europe, UK, the USA and Australasia.