The Four Biggest Product Recalls of All Time

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Marketing flawed products become a strong factor in litigation, and overly zealous marketers promote flawed products all the time. When product flaws are discovered early enough, product recalls can be issued to mitigate potential damages. The following stories are cautionary tales every manufacturer needs to know. It could make them more accountable for safety in the future.

Recent Product Recalls that Cause Actionable Damages

Some of the products that caused problems were discovered after people suffered damages, and these include recalls by cpsc.gov, which is the enforcement arm of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Recent recalls include Thermo Tents Mor Series and Scentsy Electrical Oil Warmers, which pose fire hazards.

The Top Recalls in Recent Product History

Recent history provides a list of product recalls that pose serious health or safety issues. The top four product recalls, based on their impact on users, including the following instances of marketing flawed products.

1) Tylenol Recall of 1982

No product has had as big an impact as the Tylenol recall of 1982. According to, Johnson and Johnson spent about $250 million on the recall as adjusted by inflation. Other product recalls have been more expensive, but Johnson and Johnson’s actions had a tremendous impact on product recalls by handling things correctly to save the brand.

The 1982 Tylenol murders in Chicago were caused by product tampering. The impact of the recall included the wholesale adjustment of packaging strategies for products. Johnson and Johnson set the standard by which companies are judged today on how quickly and effectively they can arrange product recalls.

2) Merck Vioxx Recall of 2004

Merck marketed its Vioxx arthritis treatment as a revolutionary pain reliever, and it quickly gained blockbuster status. Just five years after the drug hit the market, studies showed that the drug increased the likelihood of a heart attack. Details of the recall include:

  • More than 88,000 deaths attributed to the use of the drug
  • Cost or recall that exceeded $8.9 billion
  • Class action lawsuit that was settled for $4.85 billion
  • $950 million settlement with the Department of Justice

3) Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recall of 2016

One of the most expensive recalls ever was Samsung’s recall of the Galaxy Note 7, which had the bad habit of bursting into flames. The world’s largest smartphone manufacturer had high hopes for marketing the Galaxy Note 7, but the company was forced to recall 2.5 million phones at an estimated cost of $5.3 billion.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 contained faulty batteries that overheated and exploded. Prompt recalls by text message and emails are credited with ensuring a 96 percent return rate within three months.

4) The Toyota Recall of 2010

Even simple defects can cause major headaches and deaths. Toyota was forced to recall 8.1 million vehicles in 2010 because the gas pedals could get stuck in the floor mats. The government revealed that unintended acceleration contributed to the deaths of 89 people

The cost of the recall was estimated to be $2 billion, and Toyota was fined $1.2 billion to avoid criminal prosecution. This was clearly a case where marketers knew the problem but covered it up while marketing flawed products would continue to circulate. Toyota’s stock has since appreciated by 60 percent, but the company lags behind other manufacturers and companies that grew 155 percent over the same period.

Impact Measured in Human Misery

Many products are marketed despite knowledge of flaws and safety risks. These are some of the tops recalls based on their impact, but even minor cases can have a tremendous impact on your life. That’s why consulting an attorney after suffering from product injury is always recommended.

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