Litigation: Selected Cases
Product Liability: A woman was severely burned by a wax depilatory heated in a microwave oven according to the manufacturer’s instructions; she required hospitalization and skin grafts. The melted wax, in a little more than one minute of microwaving, had reached a temperature high enough to melt through its polypropylene container (m.p ~ 165°C = 330°F). Extensive laboratory testing exposed the danger of this and similar wax based products, leading to the conclusion that they should never be heated in microwave ovens.
Personal Injury: A woman used a microwave cookware designed for cooking pasta in a microwave oven. When she tried it in her new over-the-range microwave oven, the boiling water and contents spilled on her as she tried removing the cooking vessel from the oven, resulting in severe burns and hospitalization. I inspected the device and watched the Plaintiff demonstrate how she had used it at the time of the accident. I was able to show that the cookware was poorly and dangerously designed.
Personal Injury: A woman prepared a ramen noodle soup as directed. Howver, when she removed it from the microwave oven, the surface was so hot that she spilled the contents on herself resulting in a burn injury. My laboratory tests indicated that the surface temperature became too hot to handle safely.
Patent Litigation: In a case in which my client company was accused of patent infringement, I was able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the court that there had been no infringement. I accomplished this through extensive laboratory experimentation and discovering documents that exonerated my client. As a result, the court found for my client and overturned the patent.
Patent Infringement: In order to avoid potential litigation for patent infringement, I was hired to determine whether or not the accusing company’s patent application and claims were valid. After an extensive literature and laboratory research, I performed a large series of experiments that demonstrated that the claims had no validity. Further, I analyzed their application and found numerous flaws in the claims. As a result, the patent was never granted and my client was never charged with infringement.
Personal Injury: As the result of eruption of a microwaved non-food product, an individual claimed to have been injured. While I did find apparent misstatements of fact by this individual in her deposition, I also demonstrated that the product could, in fact, have erupted to cause the injury. I, therefore, advised the manufacturer that there was a possibility of their being liable, and urged them to settle the case, which they did. They expressed gratitude for my advice.
Personal Injury: In another case in which an individual claimed injuries from the eruption of a food product that had been heated in a microwave oven, I performed numerous product tests in a similar microwave oven, in order to determine the potential for such an incident. After examining approximately 100 samples, I found a flaw in the packaging that was very likely to cause such an eruption. Therefore, I advised the client-manufacturer that their product was probably the cause of the injury and advised them to settle the case. They did, and expressed gratitude for my advice. They also set new standards for their package.
Medical Malpractice: In a case in which an individual claimed facial injuries from the use of a medical microwave device, I was able to show, through a thorough examination of documents, that the physician had improperly used the equipment. Further, I found a document from the FDA that specifically prohibited the use of this equipment in the manner in which it was used. As a result, the attorney achieved a very satisfactory settlement from the physician’s insurance company.
Industrial Microwave Fire: This case came about because of the fire that occurred in a meat processing plant operating a microwave bacon cooker. The operators failed to observe the fire inside the microwave tunnel and, as a result, the fire raged out of control and the plant burned down. I arrived at the plant the following day, and after an extensive investigation I determined the cause of the fire was the result of a series of flaws in the design of the equipment. The insurance company reached a settlement with the manufacturer of the microwave equipment.
Contract Dispute: In this case, two manufacturers of microwave equipment that had formed a joint venture to produce a particular piece of equipment sued each other, because of constant failures of this equipment. While reading hundreds of pages of documents from the attorneys, I came across a footnote that made me realize the cause of the problem. As a result, my client was able to reach a satisfactory settlement with its opponent.
Personal Injury: An individual received serious skin burns when following the manufacturer’s instructions to heat a gel-pack heating pad in a microwave oven. Through extensive laboratory tests, I demonstrated that this product was dangerous and likely to cause extremely high surface temperatures, not immediately, but rather after 30 or 60 seconds. As a result, a consumer could place what he or she thought was a cool gel-pack on the skin, only to find after short period of time that it had reached dangerously high temperatures, sufficient to cause third-degree burns. As a result, the manufacturer paid the injured party an undisclosed amount.
Intellectual Property: A group of investors sued a well-known contract research company to recover their investment because of failure of the process in which they had invested, to produce the results claimed. Following an extensive and intensive review of documents, laboratory notebooks, government standards, and more, and working closely with a statistician, I was able to demonstrate in arbitration, that the process claimed would never work. As a result, the arbitrator found the contract research company guilty of fraud and demanded refund of all of the investors’ money, plus intellectual property. (Interestingly, I had performed a due diligence investigation, approximately five years previously, on this same contract research company and its process claims, and found them to be so dubious that I advised against an investment. The potential investors decided not to invest their money.)
Please call to discuss how I might be of service in your case, 212-362-7021.
Robert Schiffmann recently served as an expert witness
in a patent infringement case I tried which involved microwave technology.
Mr. Schiffmann's great expertise and compelling credibility with the
jury was crucial to our success.
— Paul LiCalsi, Partner, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP.
I found Mr. Schiffmann to be thorough, knowledgeable and professional, and I would highly recommend him to anyone who needed an expert opinion with regard to a microwave product.
>— Stephen H. Gold, Attorney and Counselor at Law.
Bob Schiffmann, Microwave Expert