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A Pennsylvania widow is suing furniture manufacturer Safavieh as a result of her husband's fatal shower accident. The lawsuit makes various product liability claims and alleges that the manufacturer's ceramic garden stool was defectively designed, that the furniture maker failed to test their product for safe use, and failed to warn consumers of potential dangers.
The lawsuit is seeking damages for wrongful death on behalf of the deceased's estate as a result of the death caused by the defective stool.
After seeing a HGTV redecorating program where one of Safavieh's indoor/outdoor ceramic garden stools was used as a shower stool, the couple decided to purchase one for their own shower. The following details surrounding how the death occurred were reconstructed by the medical examiner.
Tragically, while showering home alone, the husband placed his knee on top of the stool, which then broke, exposing sharp edges. As the top of the stool broke, his knee fell through the center as he was supporting himself, and his femoral artery was severed by the sharp edges as he fell through the top of the stool. His wife returned home to find him dead on the shower floor in a pool of blood. The cause of death was determined to be due to the loss of blood caused by the severing of the artery.
Product Liability for Misused Products
Product manufacturers have a duty to ensure that their products are safe for the intended, and foreseeable, uses. However, when a person is injured because a product was intentionally misused, even if the misuse was foreseeable, a manufacturer may be able to escape liability. However, in this scenario, a failure to warn claim could still be legally cognizable.
In this case, while Safavieh is yet to respond with their position, it is entirely possible that they will claim the indoor/outdoor ceramic stool was misused. Essentially, because the stool was clearly not designed to be used inside a shower, as ceramic is a porous material that is weakened when wet, and it would be exposed to constant moisture in the shower, Safavieh might try to argue that the resulting injury is due to misuse rather than a defect.