Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from the South Carolina Products Liability Law Blog!

Happy Thanksgiving from the South Carolina Products Liability Law Blog!  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I like to cook, I like to eat, and I really do not like to shop.  Therefore, it is right up my alley.

I have a few traditions for each Thanksgiving.  I enjoy a great meal, usually take a strong nap, watch a bit of whatever basketball or football games are on during the day, and I ALWAYS find time to watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  Thanksgiving movies do not get the hype that Christmas movies do, but this one is a classic.  If you have never seen it, the nutshell is that a marketing executive's travel plans get derailed and he has to find alternative methods to get home for Thanksgiving.  Along, the way, he meets Dell of the great, annoying, loveable characters in movie history.  Dell also has a history, which Steve Martin's character does not learn about until the end.  It is a hysterical movie, and also pretty heart-warming.

Anyway, trailer above and funny scene below.  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How I Fry a Turkey

Yesterday, I mentioned that I wrote a summary for a friend awhile back of how I fry a turkey.  I'm not saying this is the best way to fry a turkey, but this is how we roll at the South Carolina Products Liability Law Blog when it comes to turkey frying.

I have also learned some lessons about how to save some time on the clean-up, which I share below.  Fried turkey is crazy delicious, but be careful. 



First, I would not recommend a “Butterball” turkey for frying.  I’m not sure what it is about them, but I don’t think they fry up very well (especially if you are injecting marinade). 

Makes sure the turkey is fully thawed.  Then, rinse the turkey thoroughly.  A good way to do this is to put the turkey in your fryer pot and fill the pot with water to rinse it.  Once the water fully covers the turkey, take the turkey out and note where the water level drops to, and mark it.  Now you know how much oil you need to put in the fryer pot for your turkey to be submerged.  (This is just a way to save oil; you can put in as much oil as you want, but it increases clean-up and also increases the risk of overflow, which is very dangerous).

Dry the turkey thoroughly.  If there is any water on it, it will pop when you put it in the oil.  Make sure it is good and dry.

You don’t have to do anything, as fried turkey is delicious without any “extras.”  However, I use fat-free Italian dressing as my injectable marinade.  I strain the herbs out first, and then I inject the marinade throughout the turkey.  I also coat the outside of the turkey all over with the marinade.  After this step, I coat the turkey heavily with Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning.  After this preparation, put the turkey in the refrigerator overnight.


Do the frying of the turkey on the grass somewhere.  There will be a little popping and grease residue that gets out of the pot, and if you are doing it on concrete, it will get on there.  This is not a big deal, as it will wear off.  However, it also makes it easy to track oil into the house, which never goes well with the wife.  For this reason, I do it in my backyard on the grass.  Also, do it away from your house.  Plenty of people have burned their houses down while frying a turkey, so you don’t want to be one of them.  You don't have to be 100 yards away from your home, but the point is not to do it in your garage.  A back patio away from the house or in the yard is fine.

I use peanut oil.  I can’t speak to other kinds of oils.  The cardinal rule about oil is do not mix poultry and seafood oil.  Your turkey will taste fishy.  You can fry anything else with turkey (hushpuppies, vegetables, etc.).  However, if you are using oil that you have used in the past for seafood frying, my experience is you taste the seafood in the turkey.  

Before I put the bird in the oil, I give it a fresh coat of Tony Chachere's.  Some of it usually drips off overnight, so I like a good coating before putting it in the oil.  

As for the actual cooking, in my experience, the key to frying a turkey is watching the temperature and watching the time.  Generally, I fry my turkey at 325 degrees for three-and-a-half minutes per pound.  That being said, before I put the turkey in the oil, I heat it to about 350 degrees.  The reason is that when I put the cold turkey in the oil, it usually decreases the temperature a fair amount.  Therefore, I have it a little hotter at the beginning so that (hopefully) the equilibrium is about 325 degrees when the turkey is lowered in the oil.

As I cook, I compensate with more or less time depending on my ability to keep the temperature at 325.  If it gets too hot, I turn the burner off until the temperature comes down, and I may reduce the fry time a bit to compensate.  If it gets too cold, I turn the burner up and may add some frying time depending on how long it takes to get it back to 325.  The point is to watch your gauge and try to keep it around that temperature, and compensate as needed.   

When the turkey is ready, lift it out and set it on some paper towels to strain off.  I usually just let it sit outside on the paper towels for about 15 minutes to cool and drip off oil.  Then I slide it off the lowering tool into a pan, take it inside, and pick it off the bone.

If I am frying multiple things over a few days, I don’t bother with cleaning the oil out of the pot.  I just put it in a safe place to cool and store until the next day.


I've always read that oil is good for a year, and I've practiced that and never had any issues.  I find turkeys get better with every fry because the oil is good and seasoned.

When you are done frying for good and want to clean up, I've found the following to be the easiest way:

Let oil cool completely.  Get someone to help you, and have one person hold an oil funnel while the other pours the oil out of the pot and back into the original container.  Try to keep from spilling the oil outside the funnel, because if you do, it can get on the side of the container in which you are storing the oil.  If this happens, you now have to clean up the container (in addition to everything else you are cleaning).  Lowe's sells turkey frying peanut oil in big containers.  I would recommend trying to buy it in one of those big containers because it makes clean-up easier.  If you have four or five containers of oil (as opposed to one large container), then you have to keep refilling.  This creates more and more chance to get the oil on the outside of the containers and increase clean-up time.  If you have one big container, then you can just tip the pot and pour until it is all out.

Unless you have large "chunks" of residue, I wouldn't bother much with filtering the oil.  All the big stuff sinks to the bottom anyway, so when you get to the end you can decide if you want to keep what's at the bottom (i.e., the seasoning) or pour it off.  I usually pour everything back into my container.  It makes for better-seasoned oil. 

For cleaning the pot, get some Dawn and a good brillo pad or other steel wool.  I would do this outside…you won't score points with your better half if you do it inside. 

If you have hot water outside, that’s awesome.  If not, rinse the pot with some cold water to get the big residue out, and do a quick scrub.  This is to get the big stuff.  Pour out the cold water, and then fill the pot with water again and put it on your burner.  Use the burner to heat the water nice and warm/hot.  Then, I use the pot as a basin to clean my lowering tools, thermometer, scooper, etc.  Then, I scrub the interior and exterior of the pot and lid really good with the water in it, scrubbing hard.  Then I pour off that hot water, and probably repeat a last time with cold water. 

I’m not going to lie: the clean-up is a pain.  It usually takes me about 30 minutes to an hour.  You don't have to use hot water, but it seems to clean better and it takes longer just using cold water (i.e., you usually have to repeat it a couple more times).

(Because the clean-up takes a bit, I take advantage of every time I use my turkey fryer.  I will fry a turkey, a chicken, some hushpuppies, and maybe some other food to freeze). 

I store my oil inside until the next use.  I've kept it outside before in a storage room, and it got very cold.  I never had a spoilage issue from storage temperature, but it is probably a better practice to store it inside.  

I hope this is helpful.  It has always worked for me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Turkey Frying Season

I'm an avid turkey fryer.  I don't know who first came up with the idea of taking one of the leanest, healthiest meats and dunking it in a vat of hot peanut oil, but I salute you sir. 

I also always enjoy seeing this Allstate commercial around Thanksgiving.  I like the matter-of-fact way that Dennis Haysbert (a/k/a President Dennis Palmer and Pedro Cerrano) talks about how plenty of people will burn their houses down when they try to fry a turkey.  My suspicion is that this most often occurs when someone uses too much oil, and it overflows when they lower the turkey into the pot (not that I have any experience with that...).  If you want to see a great illustration of the danger (and in the interest of providing equal time to State Farm), check out this video

Does this risk make a turkey fryer a defective and unreasonably dangerous as a product?  Of course not.  However, you do need to be careful.  WMFB news ran a nice story last week about turkey fryer fires (and other deep fryer claims).  Unfortunately, South Carolina ranks tenth in the country when in comes to deep fryer fires. 

So...when you fire up that oil this season, do be careful.  You can find a link to the article here, and the actual article is cut and pasted below.  (A few years back, I did a summary for a friend of how I fry a turkey.  If I can dig it up, I'll try to post it tomorrow).

SC ranks in top 10 for Thanksgiving cooking fires

Posted: Nov 14, 2012 12:07 PM EST Updated: Nov 15, 2012 4:30 AM EST

While turkey frying is very popular, it puts people at risk for fryer related fires and injuries.

SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) - Thanksgiving produces more cooking fires, according to insurance claims, than any other day of the year, and South Carolinians are starting many of them.

According to State Farm claims data, grease and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day compared to an average day in November. South Carolina ranked in the top 10 states for cooking fires according to claims made over the past five years.

While turkey frying is very popular, it puts people at risk for fryer related fires and injuries. In fact, fire departments across the U.S. respond to more than 1,000 fires each year where a deep fryer is involved.
The National Fire Protection Association reports that deep fryer fires cause more than $15 million in property damage each year, not to mention the burn dangers related to splattered grease.

According to State Farm, the top 10 states for grease and cooking-related claims on Thanksgiving Day for the past five years (2007-2011) are:
  1. Texas
  2. Illinois
  3. New York
  4. Ohio
  5. Florida
  6. California
  7. Louisiana
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. Minnesota
  10. South Carolina
Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Upcoming December 12 "Milestone" and Webinar

On December 12, 2012, two BIG things are happening.  First, yours truly turns the big 4-0.  Yes, the 40th birthday is at hand.  Funny...I don't feel any different than I did at age 20.  The big difference is the change in responsibility.  A good friend and former colleague of mine, Will Thomas, and I once had a conversation once about getting older.  I have often laughed at his explanation because of the way he phrased it and also the accuracy of his statement.  Paraphrased, he said it best:
I don't feel much different than when I was in college.  I'm still as ready to go out with friends as the next guy...stay up late...have fun.  However, regardless of what I do the night before, come 7 a.m., my son is waking up.  And from then on, it's "on" regardless of what I want to do or how I feel.
Very true statement.  I'm older, and (hopefully) a little wiser, but no matter what I want to do with my time, when the chirrens wake up and it is time to go to work, it's "on."

The other "big" thing happening December 12th is I am assisting with another Primerus webinar.  As I have stated in prior posts, my firm is a proud member of the International Society of Primerus Law Firms, and I serve on the Products Liability Executive Committee for the Primerus Defense Institute.  Our committee is presenting this webinar, which is entitled "Emerging Trends and Developments in Products Liability Law."  More specifically, it will provide an overview of what makes a manufacturer liable for a product in relation to a third-party component manufacturer, or even a plaintiff (i.e., by virtue of alteration or modification).  I will be joined by other Primerus lawyers John Brydon and Jeremy Cook as we speak on this topic.

These webinars are easy ways to get a nice overview of various practice areas in a short (one hour) timeframe.  It is also FREE (which is also a big selling point for this blogger).  Therefore, if you are a Primerus member or practice in-house, I invite you to join us.  Registration can be found here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Verdict Survey: Dialysis Machine in Charleston County

Capsule Summary: A federal court in Charleston County returned a judgment of $50,398 for a seventy-nine-year-old male dialysis patient who sustained injuries when a renal machine failed during treatment.

Case Information: Kasie Blake v. DVA Renal Healthcare, C/A No. 9:06-1257

Date of Verdict: February 27, 2008

Venue: United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division

Judge: Solomon Blatt, Jr.

Factual Background: Kasie Blake ("Plaintiff") was a married, seventy-nine-year-old dialysis patient at DVA Renal Healthcare ("Defendant").  During one of his dialysis procedures, the machine stopped working.  Plaintiff alleged negligence against Defendant in that the machine was not effectively prepared to restart if it lost power.  His wife also alleged a claim for loss of consortium.  Defendant denied responsibility for the machine's failure and disputed Plaintiff's damages.

Experts: None listed.

Alleged Damages: Plaintiff alleged he developed First Use Syndrome which is an anaphylactic reaction to an artificial kidney.  Symptoms include sneezing, shortness of breath, wheezing, back and chest pain, and risk of death.  Plaintiff required six days of hospitalization and continued to complain of complications thereafter.

Disposition: The lawsuit resulted in a $50,398 judgment.  Although I assume this was a jury verdict, the report does not specify one way or the other (i.e., it only indicates a "judgment"). 

This post is subject to the DISCLAIMER AND TERMS OF USE of this website.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Article Published on Equitable Indemnification and SCDTAA Follow-Up

Earlier this year, I submitted an article for publication in the South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys Association's publication, The Defense Line.  The article surveyed equitable (non-contractual) indemnification law in South Carolina and the products liability cases in which it has been applied.  The article has been published in the Fall 2012 edition of The Defense Line, and you can find a copy of it here

When I write an article, I try to be pretty exhaustive in terms of reviewing every case that has dealt with a particular issue.  This article is no exception.  I tried to find every South Carolina products case dealing with equitable indemnification when I wrote it, and hopefully it serves as a useful resource for understanding this area of South Carolina law.

In addition, I just returned from speaking at the SCDTAA Annual Meeting in Kiawah (previously blogged about here).  My 45 minute speech generally provided an update on everything that has happened in South Carolina in 2012 with regard to products liability cases (significant opinions, legislative/regulatory developments, and general trends).  I appreciated the audience's attention and enjoyed this speaking opportunity.

I have enjoyed serving as a Co-Chair for the SCDTAA Products Liability Substantive Law Committee for the past two years.  It is a great committee and provides many opportunities for networking, publishing and speaking.  If you are a member of SCDTAA and have any interest in becoming involved, please let me know.  Although I expect to rotate off as Co-Chair, I certainly intend to remain involved.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Speaking at SCDTAA Annual Meeting

This week, I will be speaking at the Products Liability Substantive Law Committee breakout session during the South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys Association ("SCDTAA") Annual Meeting.  The meeting is being held at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, and it begins on Thursday and wraps up on Sunday.  I am sure it will be an excellent meeting.

Unfortunately, I am only coming for the day on Friday for our breakout session, which is scheduled from 10:15 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.  I plan to do a general update on South Carolina product liability developments in 2012, including a survey of significant cases and overall trends over the last few years.

If you will be attending this meeting, I invite you to our break out session and hope to meet you.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Verdict Survey: Exploding Gun in Florence County

Capsule Summary: On May 1, 2004, a Florence county jury returned a Plaintiff’s verdict in a case involving explosion of a gun, which caused loss of three fingers on Plaintiff’s right hand, diminished vision, and bilateral hearing loss. 

Case Information: Matthews v. Olin Corporation, Case No. 01-CP-21-1729

Date of Verdict: May 1, 2004

Venue: Florence County Court of Common Pleas

Judge: James E. Brogdon, Jr.

Factual Background: Plaintiff was a seventy-year-old male who was married and a retired steel worker.  He went to a sporting goods store to purchase black powder for his black powder muzzle rifle.  The retailer recommended a new smokeless ball powder, which was manufactured Olin Corporation (“Defendant”).  Plaintiff purchased the smokeless ball powder and took it home to use it.  He tried twice to fire his gun, but was unsuccessful.  He returned to the retail store and was instructed to try and fire the gun one more time.  When he did, the gun exploded.

Plaintiff sued the retailer, distributor, and the manufacturer in a product liability case.  He alleged the label on the powder was misleading and the warning label was inadequate.  He claimed the label failed to properly warn of the hazards of substituting smokeless propellants for black powders.  He also alleged the warning was unclear and inconspicuous, and no warning was give with regard to the danger of using the product in a ball powder muzzle loading rifle.  He claimed Defendant was negligent in failing to provide sufficient information to distributors or retailers on the danger of using the product in the place of black powder. 

Defendant claimed the label was adequate and warned against substituting powders.  Defendant also argued the Plaintiff failed to read the warning and loaded his rifle with a double charge.  Defendant generally argued Plaintiff's misuse of the product caused the explosion. 

Plaintiff admitted he had not entirely read the label and conceded it said “Do not mix powders, do not substitute powders.”  However, he argued use of the powder was inferred by the title of “ball powder,” and there was no specific warning against using smokeless powder in a black powder muzzle rifle.  He also presented competitor warning labels displaying a warning against use of smokeless powders in black powder rifles. 

Experts: Plaintiff retained Richard Moll of Madison, Wisconsin as an expert on product safety and Dean Harris of Columbia, South Carolina as an engineer/rifle expert. 

Alleged Damages: Plaintiff lost three fingers and a substantial amount of blood.  He developed a central retinal vein occlusion from the blood loss, which caused partial vision and partial hearing loss.  He also claimed medical expenses of  $50,000.

Disposition: Defendant assumed representation of the distributor from the onset of the case.  The retailer settled with Plaintiff prior to trial for $187,500, including loss of consortium.  The jury returned a verdict of $150,000 for strict liability and $160,000 for negligence ($150,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages) against Defendant.  The jury found Plaintiff to be fifty percent at fault on the negligence claim.  Therefore, Plaintiff elected to recover on the strict liability claim.  A partial credit to the manufacturer for the previous settlement would have reduced the verdict to approximately $56,500.  The parties negotiated a post-verdict settlement for $95,000, which included Plaintiff’s wife’s consortium claim. 

This post is subject to the DISCLAIMER AND TERMS OF USE of this website.