Natalie M. Barnhard v. Cybex International, Inc
Background: In October, 2004, Natalie Barnhard, a physical therapy assistant, was
overseeing a patient’s therapy. During the task, Barnhard placed her right hand on a leg-extension machine’s weight stack frame a started to rotate her torso to strech her right shoulder. The machine tipped and fractured two vertebrae upon striking her neck.
Barnhard’s fractured vertebrae rendered her a quadriplegic. She no longer has control of her bowels or bladder, requires round the clock care, and rendered her unable to start the massage therapy practice she was in the process of founding. According to medical experts, Barnhard’s life expectancy was shortened to 64 years or less.
Barnhard sued the machine manufacturer, Cybex International, alleging the product was defectively designed. Cybex alleged that Barnhard’s employer, Amherst Orthopedic, was negligent in ...view middle of the document...
Issue: Did Cybex fail in its duty to properly warn users of potential hazards and
safety concerns in relation to its product?
Rule: Product Warning Label Laws
Both the FDA and ANSI have strict requirements for product warnings. Any item that could potentially cause harm in anyway must have adequate and proper product warning labels.
Analysis: Many products require a warning label stemming from a duty to warn.
Whenever a product carries with it a hazard or a risk, the manufacturers have a series of obligations imposed by tort law and by the American National Standards Institute. ANSI Z535 series, Safety Signs and Colors dictates the requirements for warning labels on products in the United States.
When possible, manufacturers must eliminate hazards in the design of products. When this is not possible, the risk of harm must be minimized by other protective measures, including guarding or limiting measures on the product.
When the product is as safe as possible, given its intended use and design, any remaining hazards must be addressed by the use of a warning label. The warning label should inform consumers of any training, procedures or protective equipment a person can use to minimize the potential for harm.
The warning labels should also dictate the specific types of harm the product carries with it.
Conclusion: The jury found that Barnhard, Amherst Orthopedic and Cybex were
all negligent. Cybex was assigned 75 percent of the liability; Amherst Orthopedic was assigned 20 percent of the liability; and Barnhard was assigned 5 percent of the liability.
Barnhard was awarded as follows: $1,689,439 Personal Injury: Past Medical Cost, $28,563,128 Personal Injury: Future Medical Cost, $151,690 Personal Injury: Past Lost Earnings Capability, $1,797,612 Personal Injury: Future Lost Earnings Capability, $8,000,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering, $25,000,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering, $792,435 Personal Injury: future care for potential children.
Cybex intends to seek post trial relief from the jury’s verdict.