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Products Liability

Enforcement of manufacturers'' legal accountability to consumers helps make products safer and better for all of us. With the influx of questionable products from Chinese manufacturers, the difficulty and complexity of products liability lawsuits has grown.  Merely finding and serving papers upon the Chinese manufacturer of a product purchased at Wal-Mart is quite difficult.

That's just one of the many reasons it is crucial to select a products liability trial lawyer who is experienced in all aspects of litigation. Ken Shigley has years of experience in products liability litigation, and he wrote the legislation to make international service of process a little easier in civil cases in Georgia courts.

Under Georgia law, a manufacturer may be liable for injury or death caused by a defective product under three separate legal theories.

Negligence. A manufacturer may be liable for injury or death caused by failure to exercise ordinary care in any of several ways, including the following:

  • Negligent design.
  • Failure to adequately test and inspect.
  • Failure to provide adequate instructions, warnings and labels.
  • Failure to issue an adequate recall notice.
  • Strict Liability. If a product is defective, the manufacturer may be held liable for resulting injury or damage, even without proof of negligence.

Strict Liability. The manufacturer of any personal property sold as new property directly or through a dealer or any other person shall be liable in tort, irrespective of privity, to any natural person who may use, consume, or reasonably be affected by the property and who suffers injury to his person or property because the property when sold by the manufacturer was not merchantable and reasonably suited to the use intended, and its condition when sold is the proximate cause of the injury sustained.

Products liability suits, except for post-sale failure to warn of a hazard, must be filed within ten years from the date of the first sale for use or consumption of the product.

Georgia law generally protects sellers who are not actual manufacturers from liability under the strict liability doctrine.

Implied Warranties. The Uniform Commercial Code establishes contract-based grounds for products liability which are recognized in Georgia.

  • Implied warranty of merchantability. The product must be fit for purposes intended by the seller.
  • Implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. The product must be fit for the buyer's intended use which was known to the seller.

In Georgia, "privity of contract" is required for recovery under implied warranty theories. Only the buyer or a member of her household can recover. The employee of a corporate buyer cannot recover under an implied warranty theory in Georgia.

Wrongful death claims cannot be based on the breach of an implied warranty in Georgia, though there can be recovery for personal injury not resulting in death. This is due to an anomaly in the nineteenth century wording of the Georgia wrongful death statute. However, wrongful death claims may be based upon a strict liability theory.

Fair Business Practices Act.  Occasionally a defective product case also involves unfair or deceptive acts and practices on the part of the seller in violation of the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act, which includes a provision for triple damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.  While rarely invoked in this context, the language of the statute allows its use in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Ken Shigley represented the plaintiff in the first known products liability wrongful death case case in which a wrongful death claim was brought under the Fair Business Practices Act by classifying a negligently designed and defective forklift truck attachment as an "office supply."

A major portion of this firm's practice over the past decade has been focused on products liability matters, ranging from tires to forklifts, and from SUV rollover, roof crush and seatbelt issues, to a wide variety of industrial equipment.

Client Reviews
"Goes above and beyond and is a mountain of knowledge on spine and brain injuries. He does his research and represents you with a level of excellence. Remains a friend after representing me." Dee M., Woodstock, GA
"I have collaborated with Mr. Shigley on several initiatives within Georgia’s Judiciary over the past few years and found him to be a persistent and attentive individual. Ken has taken great pride in his involvement with the projects that I have worked on and he is good at influencing success. Despite his hectic schedule, Ken has always made time to discuss, research and review ideas for the best way to accomplish goals. I look forward to a continued working relationship in this and future roles." Jorge B., CIO, Judicial Council of Georgia
"After having to have a hole drilled in an automobile part at a machine shop 10 years ago, I told my uncle I could have done that. My uncle replied, "You are doing this once these guys do it every day" That simply means if you don't know where to turn, get help and get an expert. Ken was that help when I was severely injured during a fatal accident. Ken and his team at Shigley Law are experts, and are here to help you during your crisis. Ken will be there during the injury, recovery, and trial. He and his firm will work hard to see that you are represented fairly!" Jeremy R.
"Ken is a very kind man. He has a wealth of knowledge and is going above and beyond to help us while representing our case." Candy F., spouse of catastrophic injury client, Plains, GA
"I know Ken as trial lawyer of highest standards. Ken is knowledgeable and innovative and that translates to success in the courtroom. He is outgoing, compassionate and personable which makes him a pleasure to work with in any setting." Eric B., Attorney, Canton, GA