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Taser manufacturer wins lawsuit

ST. LOUIS – A jury returned a verdict in favor of Taser International on Thursday in a civil suit that claimed the company failed to properly warn of the dangers of its stun gun.

The verdict in St. Louis Circuit Court came after trial that lasted a week-and-a-half.

The product liability suit was filed on behalf of Colin Fahy, of St. Louis, who went into cardiac arrest after St. Louis police shot him with a Taser at his home while responding to a domestic disturbance on Dec. 7, 2007. Fahy, 17 at the time, recovered but claimed brain damage, mostly to his short-term and working memory.

Lawyers for Fahy argued that Taser knew then of the dangers of firing the device, which delivers an electric shock, toward someone’s chest but failed to warn police in manuals and training.

The company now includes the warning, “Avoid chest shots if possible.”

But lawyers for Taser said none of those studies showed cardiac arrest, and only heart disturbances at 15 times the typical Taser charge. They suggested Fahy’s cardiac arrest was actually caused by being handcuffed in an agitated state.

The jury would have had to decide two things to hold the company responsible: first, that the Taser directly caused Fahy’s cardiac arrest, and second, that the product was sold without an adequate warning of its risks.

Bill Dowd, one of Fahy’s attorneys, said jurors he spoke to later said they were swayed in favor of the former but were not convinced of the latter.

Dowd said he was looking at appeal options.