What Happens When a Company Is Sued For Its Products

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What happens when a company is sued because of a product?

Rebecca Rose Woodland, litigator and legal analyst weighed in on what happens and whether or not liability is still on the table after a company chooses to settle. 

Watch the clip above for more.

Video Transcripts:

Katherine Ross:
What happens when a company is sued for its product? Well, joining me to break it down is Rebecca Rose Woodland, litigator and legal analyst. Rebecca let's start right there. What exactly happens.

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
So, various companies can be sued for various things. When they're sued for products, that's usually for negligence or gross negligence. So either the product is defective, the company knew the product was defective and put it on the market anyway, or the company didn't know, that being the case, it still is defective, they should have known. So in the negligence arena, products liability, you're talking usually with major companies' class actions, mass torts, where you see with Johnson and Johnson and the opioids, Bayer with Monsanto, the company they acquired recently over the last two years. They also acquired a tremendous amount of liability due to the class action lawsuits from Bayer-Monsanto division and Roundup, a chemical used to garden and to prevent weeds from happening in the gardening.

Katherine Ross:
When a company chooses to settle, is liability still on the table?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
So that's interesting. Settlement talks in these large arenas and the class actions or the mass torts are very often based on a company that does not want to publicly accept the liability. So oftentimes the settlement will be arranged. We'll sit in a room with a group of the plaintiff's attorneys and the defense attorneys with the judge negotiating what the public statement will be and what the company is accepting. Oftentimes, it'll be a settlement for money without accepting liability if the product was faulty.

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
So that often what creates an issue for the company, depending on how much liability they feel they have, depending on how much evidence there is that the product may have been defective and the company knew about it prior, or at some course of time, while the product was on the market. Those are the types of negotiations that happen. And that's why the liability on some of these companies can be so dramatic. With Bayer, we're looking at possibly a trillion dollars in liability, if some of these cases aren't settled. With the opioids, same amount. So these companies really want to look to settle and get with an understanding of a public disclosure without accepting liability. That's usually what the companies are looking to do.

Katherine Ross:
Rebecca, thank you for joining us today and for more, head on over to the street.com.

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
Thank you.

You can follow Katherine Ross on Twitter at @byKatherineRoss.

Read more from Katherine Ross here.

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