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An Albany appellate panel has upheld a product liability verdict involving an allegedly defectively designed razor that injured the plaintiff in the case at bar and sparked prior complaints from other consumers. The product at issue in Warnke v. Warner-Lambert Co., 95800, was the Schick Personal Touch razor. Trial proof showed that the plaintiff, Rachel Warnke, was shaving her leg on April 21, 1999, when the plastic cartridge holding the blades broke along with two of the four posts securing the blades to the cartridge. She suffered a deep cut that required 27 sutures, according to court records. Supreme Court Justice Vito C. Caruso of Schenectady, N.Y., dismissed one cause of action, alleging a manufacturing defect, but permitted a claim for defective design to proceed to trial. A jury awarded Warnke $102,000 in damages, an award Caruso cut to $40,000. A key issue on appeal was the sufficiency of the proof offered by the plaintiff, primarily through engineer Vito Colangelo. Colangelo opined in an affidavit that the Schick cartridge was made of a brittle polystyrene material with low impact resistance. He said that as far back as 1995 a more durable and economical material was available that could have been used by Schick. “Inasmuch as plaintiff herein satisfactorily produced credible evidence that the subject razor cartridge was defectively designed and that said defect proximately caused her injuries, we do not find the verdict to be against the weight of the evidence,” Justice Anthony J. Carpinello wrote for the unanimous panel. The court was unpersuaded that Caruso erred in admitting evidence of prior consumer complaints regarding the Schick Personal Touch razor. Presiding Justice Anthony V. Cardona and Justices Karen K. Peters and Carl J. Mugglin joined in the opinion. Denis R. Hurley Jr. of Conway & Kirby in Niskayuna, Schenectady County, argued for the plaintiff. Philip G. Steck of Cooper, Erving & Savage in Albany defended Warner-Lambert.

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