Liability Lawsuit Dismissed Against TASER

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – TASER International Inc., a provider of electronic control devices announced that the circuit court for the County of Saginaw, Mich., entered a judgment in favor of TASER ordering the dismissal of the product liability lawsuit filed by Devica Thompson, et. al. against the company.

According to a statement released by TASER, this is the twentieth wrongful death or injury lawsuit that has been dismissed or judgment entered in favor of TASER. The court held that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to state a legally recognized claim against the company as a matter of law and ruled the plaintiff was unable to prove that the Advanced TASER® M26 device was a cause of Thompson’s death.

The court stated that there was no dispute as to his immediate cause of death from metabolic and respiratory acidosis and noted that the autopsy report found high concentrations of lactic acid and carbon dioxide in Thompson’s blood. The court then stated that lactic acid is typically generated as a by-product of creating energy for muscle contractions without oxygen and held that “accepting as fact that some lactic acid can be produced by muscle contractions induced by a TASER, there is no evidence that this makes the M26’s design inherently or unreasonably dangerous.”

It was then concluded “…Any attempt to pinpoint the TASER M26 as a ‘but for’ cause without which Thompson would have lived would involve nothing more than sheer speculation on the part of a jury. It is equally likely, if not more so, that defendant’s exertions in fighting with friends and officers that night generated more lactic acid than which his body was able to cope.”

The court also noted that plaintiff’s own experts did not conflict with TASER’s theory of Thompson’s death, “but explicitly acknowledges that the physical confrontations played an undeniable role in bringing about his acidosis.”

The court also held that “it is equally possible the use of the TASER led to the release of less lactic acid than would have been produced naturally by the additional physical wrestling necessary to subdue an offender if use of the device had not been used.”

In ruling that the TASER device was not defective out of a failure to warn, the court held that there is no evidence that the device would have harmful effects on healthy individuals. It was also held that, “No warning can guide the officer’s discretion if the potential for harm only exists in an offender beset with unobservable latent physical ailments.”

“We are very pleased that the Court held that the TASER device was not the cause of this unfortunate death and also to see judges accept the fact that early use of TASER technology to end a struggle is much safer and produces much less lactic acid than what would have been produced naturally by the additional physical struggle had the TASER M26 not been used,” commented Douglas Klint, vice president and general counsel for TASER Int’l.  “The Court’s opinion in the Thompson case is one of the first to rule as a matter of law that the TASER device is not the cause of death in cases involving metabolic or respiratory acidosis, which is the primary cause of most in-custody deaths; and also to rule that TASER had met its duty to warn,” concluded Klint.

“Our strategy of aggressively defending these product liability lawsuits is continuing to show results and we will relentlessly fight these lawsuits with the overwhelming medical and scientific evidence showing that the TASER device was not the cause of injury or death,” concluded Klint.

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