Earlier this week, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a District Court civil verdict holding an Arizona-based taser manufacturer liable in the 2005 death of a Salinas, California man. In 2008, a federal district court jury found that the manufacturer, TASER, should have known that its product was reasonably calculated to cause cardiac arrest in victims after a prolonged exposure to the product.
Tasers, also known as electronic control devices (ECD’s), are used by police officers across the nation to subdue unruly or uncontrollable suspects. The district of Northern California jury also found that the manufacturer should be held liable because it failed to adequately warn consumers of the serious risk of injury or death from an ECD.
In the 2005 case, a father called the Salinas police department after his son had been acting unruly on the front law, fearing a drug relapse. The Salinas police department responded to the call and engaged their taser equipment to subdue the man. The victim was subjected to 75 seconds of consistent electric shock. He went into immediate cardiac arrest and was removed from life support the following day.
After hearing evidence from both the taser manufacturer, the Salinas police and witnesses to the incident, the jury awarded the victim’s family $1,000,000 in compensatory damages and $5,000,000 in punitive damages. The victim’s estate was awarded another quarter-million dollars in both compensatory and punitive damages. The defendant immediately appealed the decision to the U.S. 9th Circuit claiming multiple trial errors.
The 9th Circuit refused to disrupt the trial court’s findings that the manufacturer knew or should have known that the M26 ECD model was dangerous because prolonged exposure to the volts can cause cardiac arrest in victims. The 9th Circuit was willing, however, to vacate $3,000 of the award to the victim’s estate. This case marks the first-ever upheld verdict against the taser manufacturer, despite several attempts at liability by victims and families nationwide.
News reports abound across the U.S. of excessive and deadly use of taser devices by police eager to subdue any unruly citizen. Tasers have been linked to bone fractures and serious physical injuries. Even police officers experience exposure to tasers report excessive pain and 50,000 volts that knock a grown man to the ground. Taser injuries are known to be exaggerated in those with mental illness or dementia and those suffering drug or alcohol addictions.
Taser case law and precedent is just getting started in California and the U.S. If you have been injured from the use of a taser by law enforcement or any other person, give us a call. We can go over your case for free and help you decide if you should pursue a personal injury case against the dangerous and deadly devices.