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Taser Lawsuit Highlights Risks of Taser Deaths

By Minara El-Rahman | Last updated on

Taser International Inc. is no stranger to lawsuits, but it got zapped with a zinger this time. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the Scottsdale, Arizona manufacturer is getting sued in a taser lawsuit by the family of a Las Vegas doctor who died in 2008. A Nevada Highway Patrol officer allegedly tasered him when he got pulled over on his way to work in Interstate 15 which allegedly caused him to turn blue at the scene and die. He was only 33 years old. The lawsuit serves as another example of what some see as a risk of death posed by taser use in certain situations.

The lawsuit said that Mr. Ryan Rich suffered a seizure while driving to work that day when he got pulled over for driving erratically and getting involved in a few minor traffic accidents. The highway patrol officer allegedly tasered Mr. Rich five times (twice in stun gun mode). When he was taken to a hospital, he was pronounced dead.

The lawsuit claims that Taser failed to disclose the lethal risks of its products when the device is discharged is near the chest. The lawsuit alleges that the product can cause cardiac arrest and "ventricular fibrillation." The lawsuit also claims that the company failed to warn law enforcement officials to carry defibrillators to mitigate the risks of brain damage or death if the suspect goes into cardiac arrest after officials use the device.

Taser, Inc. prides itself on being able to deflect defective product lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits. It recently issued a press released about how it had a milestone 100th lawsuit dismissed back in November of last year. However, plaintiffs in at least one suit have prevailed. AZ Central reported that the wrongful death lawsuit of Robert C. Heston yielded a judgment against Taser Inc. in the amount of $6.2 million in damages.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, the 9th Circuit will rule on strict guidelines on the use of tasers by law enforcement soon. Nevada is one of the states in the 9th Circuit's jurisdiction.  

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