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Defective Bottle Injury Claims – When to Sue

Defective Bottle Injury Claims – When to Sue

A person holding a glass beer bottle

In this article, we’ll break down the following:

People sustain injuries in the most mundane circumstances. Something seemingly harmless such as having a beer to unwind after a long day can have disastrous consequences on your physical well-being.

No one opens a bottle of wine expecting it to explode, sending flying shards of glass everywhere. No one pops champagne expecting to lose an eye in the process.

Unfortunately, that is the reality many people grapple with after opening poorly-manufactured bottles. If you’ve recently been injured by an exploding bottle, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries. Here’s everything you need to know about defective bottle injury claims in Florida.

Defective Bottle Injury Claims – Definition

According to a National Institute of Health study, 26 percent of victims injured by exploding bottles face permanent eye impairment. Champagne bottle-related injuries were the most prevalent of all exploding bottle incidents, noting that bystanders were the most likely to sustain eye injuries.

The root cause of exploding carbonated drinks traces back to bottle manufacturing. Bottles are manufactured and filled at bottling plants. They are subjected to quality control checks that involve testing, reviewing, and opening the bottle to ensure they are safe for consumers.

If the quality control process reveals too many air bubbles in any single bottle, the erroneous batch is discarded, and the machines’ carbonation levels are adjusted to the correct threshold.

Carbonation simply refers to the infusion of carbon dioxide into a beverage. The gasses are injected into the liquid, not the bottle, as you might believe. The idea behind carbonation is to enhance the flavor, aroma, and sensory experience associated with ingesting carbonated drinks.

Unfortunately, some bottles with higher-than-average carbonation levels may slip through the cracks. When these bottles are accidentally shaken, they are likely to explode, resulting in catastrophic consequences. The top, cork, or entire bottle can blow up, launching shards of broken glass in all directions. These mini-projectiles have the potential to cause severe injury.

Carbonated beverages are not supposed to explode. When they do, it can be attributed to a manufacturing defect. If you are injured in the process, those are grounds for filing a defective bottle injury claim against the manufacturer.

Common Types of Bottle Defects

Ordinary consumers have a reasonable expectation of safety when opening carbonated drinks. Suppose the products don’t meet that expectation when using them as intended, perhaps due to a defective design or manufacturing process or poor handling during transportation. In that case, you can sue for any injuries you sustain.

Common bottle defects include:

  • Chemical reactions
  • Contamination
  • Excess carbonation levels
  • Faulty caps
  • Improper seals
  • Weak glass or faulty bottle material

Common Types of Injuries Caused by Defective Bottles

Individuals injured by exploding bottles can suffer a wide range of injuries. One defective bottle can even injure multiple people who happened to be in the vicinity during the explosion. An exploding bottle is a little like a missile. It becomes particularly dangerous if launched indoors since its chances of ricocheting off the walls are significantly higher.

Injuries caused by defective bottles generally fall under hand and facial injuries. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Facial bone fractures
  • Fall-related injuries such as dislocated or fractured arm, leg, or hip
  • Hand lacerations and painful cuts
  • Loss of or injury to the eye
  • Mild to severe concussion
  • Muscle and tendon cuts in the hand
  • Permanent blindness
  • Traumatic brain injury

Liability in Defective Bottle Injury Claims

A defective bottle has injured you. The next step (after seeking medical treatment for your injuries) involves determining liability. In other words, who is responsible for your injuries?

In Florida, courts operate on a strict liability premise when it comes to defective bottle injury claims. It means that the manufacturer is deemed strictly responsible for any injuries that consumers sustain as a direct result of using their product. Unlike other types of personal injury claims, victims do not have to prove negligence on the part of the liable party—in this case, the manufacturer.

In order to prevail on a claim, a victim needs to show the following:

  1. The manufacturer designed and made the bottle in question;
  2. The bottle was defective;
  3. The defect in the bottle rendered it inherently dangerous; and
  4. The defective bottle was the proximate cause of the injuries sustained by the victim.

It is worth noting that the carbonated beverage manufacturer isn’t automatically the liable party. Proving a defective bottle injury claim comes down to showing whether the cause of your injuries resulted from a manufacturing defect, a design defect, or a marketing defect. This would assign liability to the manufacturer, bottler, or distributor.

If you were responsible for causing your own injuries, such as heating the bottle and then opening it, causing it to explode, it would be difficult to assign blame to any other party to recover damages for your injuries.

Examples of Products That Caused Bottle Injuries

Excess Carbonation Levels

  • An individual purchased a six-pack of bottled beer from a local store and transported it in their vehicle for approximately 45 minutes before transferring the bottles to their home refrigerator. A short while later, the bottles exploded. One of them even broke the glass shelf above it. The user alleges to neither have shaken nor dropped the bottles and suspects that the explosion might have been due to excess carbonation.
  • Another consumer purchased a six-pack of tonic water, took it home, and stored it at room temperature in a cabinet. A few weeks later, they transferred the bottles into the refrigerator, and one exploded, sending shards of glass flying into her face, hands, and feet.

Faulty Caps

  • A consumer reported a bottle breaking while attempting to open it. Small pieces of the broken glass entered the liquid content and could have potentially caused injuries if someone inadvertently ingested it.
  • Another user purchased a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. The cap was covered in a rigid metal wrapping that required a pair of pliers and a knife to get it off. The resulting exposed metal was extremely sharp and potentially hazardous to the consumer.

Weak Glass or Faulty Bottle Material

  • A consumer purchased a pull and push stopper bottle for their two-year-old. After a few uses, a plastic piece came off the stopper, almost choking the child.
  • Another individual sustained a severe cut on their right index finger after a glass bottle of beer broke at the bottleneck while opening it.

Florida Case Law on Defective Product Claims

There are three main legal principles under which an injured party can pursue a defective product claim in the State of Florida: Design defect, manufacturing defect, and marketing defect.

The law holds designers, manufacturers, and sellers to a strict liability standard regarding defective product claims. It is not up to the plaintiff to establish negligence in the design, manufacturer, or sale process, as would be the case with conventional injury claims. Rather, they have to prove that:

  1. A relationship between the designer, manufacturer, or seller and the product exists;
  2. The product in question was defective;
  3. The defect in question made the product inherently dangerous to the consumer; and
  4. The defective product was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

It would then be up to the defendant(s) to prove otherwise. They would have to show that the product was reasonably safe for its intended use when it went on the market.

The idea behind holding designers, manufacturers, and retailers to a strict liability standard is to ensure that they adhere to the industry-accepted safety standards in product design, manufacture, and distribution. These safety standards are in addition to those mandated by other governmental agencies, including but not limited to the CPSC, FDA, FTC, NHTSA, OSHA, etc.

Florida Case Law Related to Defective Bottles

Malvaes v. Constellation Brands, Inc. (2015)

Issue: The plaintiff initiated the claim after a bottle of Corona Extra beer exploded while holding it in his hand. Joey Malvaes sued Constellation Brands, Inc., the beer manufacturer, bottler, and distributor; Crown Imports, LLC, the importer, distributor, and seller of the beer; and Sam’s East, Inc., the beer retailer. The plaintiff’s expert witness attributed the breakage to improper mold maintenance during the manufacturing process, causing damage to the interior surface of the bottle.

Result: The jury found in favor of the plaintiff on his strict product liability claim. In the verdict, the jury determined that the plaintiff had an experience that would be considered out of the norm and awarded him $301,000 in damages.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky: Background

Alan Sackrin and Larry Tolchinsky have decades of cumulative courtroom experience, having helped hundreds of clients seek redress in various legal issues. The firm offers legal representation for civil litigation, arbitration, mediation, and appeals, in several practice areas, including:

  • Catastrophic car accidents
  • Wrongful Death
  • Slip and Falls
  • Insurance claims/denials
  • All other serious personal injury claims

Our goal at Sackrin & Tolchinsky is to provide you with the best possible legal representation in your case for the most favorable outcome. We’ve employed the latest technology to keep service delivery costs low and offer personalized help for quick and fair resolutions to your legal matters.

Sackrin and Tolchinsky’s Experience as Injury Claims Lawyers

Alan Sackrin is a product liability lawyer with nearly four decades of experience in defective product injury lawsuits. Alan has successfully represented clients in various complex personal injury claims, including defective product injury suits, and helped them recover the damages they were entitled to.

One notable injury claim that Alan handled involved an employee who fell from a crane cab due to a missing safety railing. The employee sustained severe injuries, including a fractured leg and torn ligaments. These injuries resulted in the amputation of his leg to save his life.

According to the plaintiff, the crane manufacturer was responsible for his injuries due to the absence of safety features. Alan worked tirelessly to secure a win for his client, who received a sizable seven-figure settlement from the crane maker.

Get Legal Help

If you or a loved one has been injured by what you believe to be a defective bottle, you need to consult a product liability attorney as soon as possible.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky attorneys have extensive experience representing victims of defectively manufactured products. They have the legal knowledge and courtroom expertise to help you prove your case and obtain the compensation you’re rightfully entitled to.

Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation to discuss your options.

Frequently Asked Questions

What steps should I take if I am injured due to a defective bottle?

If you have been injured by what you believe to be a defective bottle, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Seek urgent medical care as soon as possible.
  2. Preserve evidence of the broken bottle and document everything, including your medical records.
  3. Speak to an experienced product liability lawyer as soon as you can.
  4. Identify what kind of defective bottle injury claim you have. Were your injuries the result of a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect?
  5. Identify the liable parties in your claim, i.e., the manufacturer, bottler, distributor, retailer, etc.
  6. Determine your damages.

What kind of damages can I recover in a defective bottle injury claim?

You can recover damages for:

  • All medical expenses incurred so far
  • Projected costs of any future medical care you might need
  • Lost wages if your injuries caused you to miss work or if your ability to work in the future has been impaired
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional distress

What is the statute of limitations for filing a defective bottle injury claim in Florida?

The statute of limitation for product liability cases based on strict liability is 4 years. For product liability cases based on negligence, please call us to discuss your case, as a recent statutory change in the law has caused uncertainty to the limitations period.

Do You Have A Question? Call Alan Sackrin Today For a Free Case Evaluation

As a Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert for over 40+ years, Alan Sackrin has extensive experience with product liability lawsuits. He offers a free initial consultation (over the phone or in-person) to answer your questions. When you’re ready to speak with an expert civil trial lawyer about your product liability case, call Alan at 945-458-8655.