The former head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is serving as a negligence expert witness on behalf of the defense in a lawsuit against Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. The parents of Lincoln Punch brought suit after their six day old son swallowed button batteries and suffered kidney, cardiac and gastrointestinal damage. The batteries stuck in his esophagus and stomach. Lincoln lost all of his toes, part of his left foot and portions of his fingers.
Button batteries are used in an increasing number of small electronics. When the batteries are swallowed, life threatening chemical burns can occur. The Punch family charges Dollar Tree with negligence in selling a product without any warnings about button batteries or instructions about the battery operated tweezers they purchased.
Safe Kids Worldwide describes the health danger that button batteries pose to children:
- Button batteries were involved in 84 percent of all battery related emergency room visits for which a battery type was identified.
- The number of serious injuries or deaths as a result of button batteries has increased more than nine fold in the past decade.
- When a button battery gets stuck in a child’s throat, the saliva triggers an electrical current that causes a chemical reaction that can burn the esophagus.
- Once burning begins, damage can continue even after the battery is removed.
Negligence expert witnesses have varied backgrounds and are hired based on the fact pattern of each particular case. Negligence experts are trained to evaluate the evidence whether the liability involves health and safety, environmental safety, or other disciplines. The first question the expert will analyze is whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care. The expertise and judgment that a negligence expert contributes to the legal team is central to the arguments presented in court.