June 10, 2008
CTV News Staff
With a report by CTV's Tom Walters in Los Angeles
Taser International suffered a rare legal loss when a U.S. court found the company liable in the wrongful death of a 40-year-old California man. Taser has won dozens of similar lawsuits in the past.
A federal jury of five women and two men found that Taser allegedly knew -- or should have known -- that prolonged exposure to one of its stun guns poses a substantial risk of cardiac arrest.
"Excessive use of this device can kill people," said lawyer John Burton.
Taser must pay $5 million in punitive damages and $1 million in compensatory damages to the parents of Robert Heston, who died in 2005 after being continuously shocked by stun guns for nearly 75 seconds.
During the incident, Heston suffered a heart attack that caused brain damage, and was removed from life support the following day.
The court found that when someone is shocked by a Taser device, their muscles release lactic acid. If someone is shocked repeatedly and for a prolonged period of time, the increasing amount of lactic acid can increase the risk of heart failure.
On Monday, three days after the court decision, Taser's stock dropped nearly 12 per cent.
In a press release, Taser stressed that the company's products were not found to be the sole cause of Heston's death. The release was titled: "Jury Finds Extended Taser Device Application 15 Percent Responsible for Arrest Related Death of Robert C. Heston."
Doug Klint, vice president of Taser International, noted that Heston was high on crystal meth when police officers deployed their stun guns. "We are disappointed that the jury awarded compensatory and punitive damages in this case given the many world renowned experts that testified to the fact that the Taser ECD was not a causal factor in this death, which fit the well established symptom pattern for methamphetamine intoxication and associated excited delirium," Klint said in the press release.
"Taser International intends to pursue appropriate legal channels, including a motion for a new trial, judgment notwithstanding the verdict and filing an appeal in this matter."
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
June 10, 2008