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Silencing product liability claims against a siren manufacturer

January 1, 2016

The challenge

Our client, Federal Signal Corporation, a leading manufacturer of emergency vehicle siren and light products, is the target of thousands of hearing loss lawsuits leveled by firefighters around the nation who claim sirens caused them hearing loss.  Federal Signal is currently in litigation in five states – Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. 

Our approach

Thompson Coburn is national coordinating counsel for all of the pending cases and has served Federal Signal as its trial counsel for a number of years. Thompson Coburn’s common sense strategy throughout the defense of these cases has been to show that plaintiffs’ claim that siren noise should be narrowly directed in front of emergency vehicles is dangerous, and that Federal Signal’s siren designs provide the broad audible warning needed to protect pedestrians, drivers and the very firefighters who are suing.

The result

Thompson Coburn has successfully obtained a string of defense victories at jury trials in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois and the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  In the most recent trial in Philadelphia involving three firefighters, the jury deliberated for less than one hour before rendering its defense verdict. Thompson Coburn has also obtained dismissals of numerous cases, including a recent dismissal in federal court in Pennsylvania. In addition, an Allegheny County court recently granted summary judgment on the product defect claims. Federal Signal has also recently secured the dismissal of large numbers of cases from the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County based upon the absence of personal jurisdiction. 

"These results are an affirmation of the importance of our siren products, which are vital safety products not only for the public, but for firefighters themselves,” Federal Signal General Counsel Daniel DuPré said in a recent company statement.