"Useful Life" and Florida Defective Products Cases - Toucet v. Future Foam Carpet Cushion Co.

April 12, 2012

The District Court for the Middle District of Florida recently considered a grisly Florida defective products case, explaining that state law prevents a person injured by certain unsafe products from suing if the product was used after it's "useful life."

693481_florida_sunset.jpgPlaintiff Eduardo Toucet, a St. Cloud resident, sued Future Foam Carpet Cushion Co. (FFCC) for negligence. A former employee of the company, Toucet survived an accident in which a peeler machine sliced through his pelvis, cutting off his penis. In the suit, he alleged that FFCC improperly removed a safety mechanism from the machine and failed to give him any training before he began using the machine.

The Palm Beach Post's Walter Pacheco reports that Toucet "was injured Jan. 13, 2010 at Future Foam Carpet Cushion after he removed a 'foam core' from a machine with a steel blade that is used to cut blocks of carpeting foam..." The complaint asserts that "[t]he surgically sharp steel blade sliced through Toucet's pelvis cutting off his penis and testicles while virtually cutting his body in half."

The court previously denied FFCC 's motion to dismiss the complaint, in which the company argued that it is immune from suit under Florida's workers compensation statute. FFCC then filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that Toucet's claims are barred under Florida's statute of repose.

Fla. Stat. ยง 95.031(b) provides that a person cannot sue to recover for injuries allegedly caused by a product with a "useful life" of 10 years or less if the injuries are caused more than 12 years after the product is delivered to the purchaser. Although, Toucet's injury occurred outside of the 12-year statutory period, he argued that the limitation does not apply where the product comes with an express warranty. The court, however, found that there was no evidence in the record to show that such an express warranty exists. Furthermore, Toucet's assertion that FFCC had been "evasive" in responding to discovery requests on this issue and that he therefore needed more time to conduct discovery in order to determine whether a warranty exists was "disingenuous," the court ruled, citing the long gap between Defendant's notice of affirmative defenses and Toucet's discovery requests.

The Toucet case is a particularly gruesome example of the serious and sometimes fatal injuries that unsafe products can cause to end users. In addition to heavy machinery, a defective product can be anything a consumer purchases that is not safe for its intended use, including unsafe automobile parts, medications, children's toys, and child safety seats.

If you were injured by a defective product, an experienced products liability attorney is crucial to the success of you claim. Defective products cases are quite different from ordinary negligence cases and a person pursuing a products liability cause of action should be sure that his or her attorney knows how to handle this legally distinct type of case.

At Anidjar & Levine has experienced South Florida personal injury attorneys who represent clients throughout the region, including in Hollywood, Boca Raton and Hialeah. If you or somebody you love was recently injured by an unsafe product, call Anidjar & Levine's Fort Lauderdale offices at (800) 747-3733 offices for a free consultation.

Related blog posts:

Florida Court on Strict Liability and the Distribution Chain in Defective Products Cases - Barnes v. Bayside Orthopaedics

Florida Court Allows Products Liability Case to Proceed without the Product - Murray v. Traxxas Corp.

Defective Product Recalls and Florida Personal Injury Law