Manufacturers must provide safe products to consumers. Dangerous products need sufficient warnings and instructions. But what does one do if a defect in the product design, materials or manufacture causes an unsafe result? That is the question a New Jersey police department has dealt with for the past ten years. Finally, a resolution is at hand.

Donning protective gear, police officers count on the safety it is intended to provide. Unfortunately, a bulletproof vest manufacturer based in another state provided police departments across the country with a defective product that ultimately put them at risk. Reportedly, New Jersey has been pursuing restitution from the manufacturer since the time officials learned that the vests’ armor didn’t protect the wearer from bullets as expected and deteriorated over time.

Court records show that the company filed for bankruptcy in 2004 when the defective vests were discovered. One New Jersey police department had purchased 15 vests more than 10 years ago at a cost of $9,000. Because of the lengthy bankruptcy proceedings, it has taken until now for the court to approve the distribution of $173,779 to 63 police departments throughout the state.

Thankfully, there are no reports of injuries or deaths in this state attributable to the vests. One officer on the West Coast died, and one in a neighboring state was seriously injured.

In a situation like this, distribution is made by the court to a state entity. The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and Division of Law will receive the compensation and disburse the funds on a pro-rated basis to each organization.

When a business is at fault for providing the public with a defective or dangerous product, it can be held responsible for injuries or fatalities in a court of law by means of a products liability lawsuit. Victims are entitled to seek damages for expenses and trauma.

An experienced review of a person’s situation will allow for determining if a trial or settlement is the right approach. A business may seek protection of a bankruptcy proceeding, as in this case. Either way, an injured party has rights that can be protected once the appropriate legal means are identified.

Source: The Jersey Journal, “Hoboken, Stevens police refunded $7K for defective bulletproof vests” Amanda Eisenberg, Aug. 07, 2014