When a large amount of money is awarded by a jury, it is not a great victory. What it really means is that someone has suffered a terrible loss and that the person or entity responsible for the loss has been held financially accountable.
That’s the case in a recent product liability lawsuit in which the jury awarded $25 million to the parents of 3-year-old Elsie, a little girl who was tragically found hanging from a window blinds cord in the family’s home.
The lawsuit accused window blinds manufacturer Century Blinds of product liability, negligence and breach of warranty in the child’s death.
Outdated and hidden warning
The little girl’s mother said the blinds contained a warning label that was “outdated by three generations at the time of sale” – and that she never saw the warning that was on the underside of the bottom rail that rested on the window sill.
She said she now knows more about the hazards of corded window blinds than she ever wanted to know, “but I had to pay for this information with the life of my child.”
Pain and grief is evident in her comments to a reporter with a media outlet near the parents’ home in Utah. “I already lost before the trial started,” she said. “There would be no ‘winning’ for me. No astronomical amount of money could ever compensate for the loss of Elsie and it feels repulsive that anyone would believe that it could.”
Multiple instances of negligence
The jury found that the blinds made by Century Blinds have a design defect and an inadequate warning and that the company was negligent in its design, in cautioning consumers about the “substantial risk of harm” posed by the blinds and that it “failed to exercise reasonable care because it did not provide a post-sale warning.”
The family’s attorneys added that the warning label was not visible after the blinds were installed and that the installation didn’t include a device that keeps cords away from small children.