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Warnings: Example Cases

• Environmental warning
Twenty-five-year-old theme park patron entered area beneath suspended roller coaster to retrieve the hat his wife had dropped previously while riding the roller coaster. While retrieving the hat, the roller coaster passed overhead and the leg of one of the passengers struck him in the head, killing him. The passenger sustained substantial injuries to her leg.

A warning sign was placed on the fence surrounding the area beneath the roller coaster. The sign said "DANGER. RESTRICTED AREA. AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY". The sign was printed only in English. The sign included text and no pictorial. The deceased patron neither spoke nor read English.

The plaintiff's attorney retained the human factors expert. After the expert read the ride operation and safety manuals, read depositions, reviewed diagrams of the ride, and conducted a site inspection, he provided deposition and trial testimony on human factors design issues, visual perception and cognition, human information processing, and safety practices. The testimony included information about the presentation and content of effective warnings, as well as the behavioral issues in responding to the perceived hazards in the environment. Case settled during trial.

• Product warning
Forty-seven-year-old man with diabetes used a heat pack to soothe aches on one of his feet, which resulted in severe burns to that foot. His occupation required that he walk during the entire work day. He missed six months of work.

Plaintiff says he read the instructions and did not see any warnings about use.

The plaintiff's attorney retained the human factors expert. After expert read depositions, examined the warning on the product, and interviewed the plaintiff and his wife, he provided a verbal report to the attorney regarding warnings. The case was settled before deposing expert.

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