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ARTICLE ID 193943

$________ FOLLOWING MEDIATION – PRODUCT LIABILITY – DEFECTIVE DESIGN – RETRACTABLE DOG LEASH RECOILS AND STRIKES PLAINTIFF IN THE EYE – RUPTURED GLOBE – LOSS OF VISION IN LEFT EYE DESPITE MULTIPLE SURGERIES

Fairfield County, CT

In this product liability matter, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in the design of its retractable dog leash, which recoiled back when his dog pulled on the leash. The recoiled leash struck the plaintiff in the eye, causing him to lose vision in his left eye due to a ruptured globe. The defendant denied that the leash was manufactured by its supplier, and disputed any liability to the plaintiff for his injuries and damages.

The 54-year-old male plaintiff was given a retractable dog leash manufactured by the defendant’s Chinese supplier by his neighbor, a former product sales representative. The model of the leash was a Hip Hugger, and it could be carried in the hand like most retractable leashes, or it could be worn on a belt attached to the user’s waist. The leash was equipped with a short, detachable section at the end – connected with a side release buckle – that was marketed as a detachable short training leash, or leash to be used when a dog needed to be tightly controlled in a crowded area. As the plaintiff was walking his dog on the date of the incident, the dog suddenly pulled at the leash to chase an animal, as the plaintiff was holding the leash in his hand at the time. The side-release buckle on the leash unfastened, separating the short training leash from the rest of the retractable leash. The retractable leash coiled back and struck the plaintiff’s left eye. The dog took off with the short training leash still attached to it. The plaintiff was diagnosed with a ruptured globe, and underwent surgery to save his eyeg but he was left with a loss of most of the vision in his left eye. He underwent two additional surgeries with no increase in his ability to see from the left eye. The plaintiff incurred medical expenses of $________, and anticipated future medical expenses of approximately $________. He brought suit against the defendant, alleging that the leash was defectively designed in that the side-release buckle connecting the side leash was unnecessary ,as well as being prone to unfasten, as it did in this instance. This created a risk of unexpected failure for the user, which could cause the leash to snap back and strike the user in the face, as it did with the plaintiff. The plaintiff was prepared to present, at trial, deposition testimony from the defendant’s corporate owner, admitting that the leash was defective as originally designed and that two other users had sustained eye injuries when the side release buckle also failed for them. The plaintiff intended to demonstrate that the leash had been redesigned since the incident to eliminate the short leash and side release buckle. The defendant’s owner also admitted under oath that he had no formal design training, and had relied upon the Chinese manufacturer to design and test the leash.

The defendant denied the allegations and maintained that it had discontinued the sale of this particular leash, and that the product in question had not been manufactured by the defendant’s supplier, but rather by a "knock-off" company. The defendant also disputed the plaintiff’s claim of lost earnings, maintaining that the downturn in the economy was the source of the plaintiff’s lack of earnings, and not his eye injury. The defendant also argued that the plaintiff had the leash fail on a prior occasion yet continued to use it.

The parties agreed to settle the plaintiff’s claim for the sum of $________ following a mediation session.

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