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Chapter 12: Strict Liability and Product Liability

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Strict Liability
Does not require fault, intent, breach of duty.
Usually involves "abnormally dangerous" activities and risk cannot be prevented. -- Dangerous animals
Other applications of strict liability: manufacturers and sellers of harmful or defective products.
Product Liability - Based on Negligence
In order to prevent claims of negligence, due care must be used by the manufacturer in:
Designing the product, selecting materials, using the appropriate production process, assembling and testing the product, placing adequate warning on the label or product
Product Liability - Based on Misrepresentation
Fraudulent misrepresentation of a product may result in product liability based on the tort of fraud.
Examples: intentional mislabeling of packaged cosmetics, intentional concealment of a product's defect
Requirements for Strict Liability
One who sells product in defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer
(seller is in the business of selling such a product and it reaches the consumer w/out substantial change)
The rule stated in subsection 1 applies although:
seller has exercised all possible care in prep and sale of his product AND user/consumer has not bought the product from or entered into any contractual relation with the seller
Claims that a product is so defective as to be unreasonably dangerous
B/c of a flaw in the manufacturing process, design defect, the manufacturer failed to war adequately of harms associated with the product's use, obvious risks
Product Defects
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Manufacturing defects
Product "departs from its intended design."
Liability on manufacturer and retailer
Design defects
Test: when "foreseeable risks could have been avoided with alternative design."
Plaintiff must show a reasonable alternative design (at the time the product was designed.)
Inadequate Warnings
Reasonableness test applies.
Defective when foreseeable risks could have been reduced or avoided w/ instructions and the omission of instructions renders the product unsafe.
There is NO DUTY to warn about obvious or commonly known risks.
Six Requirements for Strict Liability
"Unreasonably dangerous" products, claims that a product is so defective as to be unreasonably dangerous, product, manufacturing, design defects, inadequate warnings
Defenses to product liability
Several defenses that manufacturers, sellers, or lessors can raise to avoid liability for harm caused by their products.
Assumption of risk, product misuse, comparative negligence (fault), commonly known dangers, knowledgeable user, statutes of limitation
Assumption of risk
User or consumer knew of risk of harm and voluntarily assumed it
Product misuse
User or consumer misused product in way unforeseeable by manufacturer
Comparative Negligence (fault)
Liability may be distributed between plaintiff and defendant under the doctrine of comparative negligence
Commonly Known Danger
If defendant succeeds in convincing the court that a plaintiff's injury resulted from a commonly known danger, such as the danger associated with using a sharp knife, the defendant will not be liable
Knowledgeable User
Risks are obvious and should be known by professionals. Example: electrical wiring
Statutes of Limitation
States pass time limitations in which lawsuits can be filed for product liability cases.