A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against the manufacturer of Tasers, ruling the company had no duty to warn that repeated jolts from the stun guns could trigger death.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed unanimously that Arizona-based Taser International had no reason to advise police agencies in 2004 that the stun guns could cause metabolic acidosis, a condition in which lactic acid, produced during physical exertion, accumulates more quickly than the body can expel it. The condition raises the risk of a heart attack.
The parents of Michael Rosa, 38, who died in 2004 after police repeatedly shocked him with electricity from Tasers, sued the manufacturer on the grounds the company should have warned of the risk. The company maintains there is no evidence that Tasers cause acidosis but began warning about it anyway in 2009.
The suit stemmed from an incident in the Monterey County city of Del Rey Oaks. Someone called police to report that a "pretty disturbed" man was walking around and yelling. The first officer on the scene believed the man, Rosa, was "either really high or crazy" and called for backup, the court said. More officers arrived, and officers repeatedly fired Tasers at Rosa before wrangling him into handcuffs.