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Chapter 6 Strict Liability and Product Liability


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Title: Chapter 6 Strict Liability and Product Liability

Chapter 6 Strict Liability andProduct Liability
1 Strict Liability
  • Defendants liability for strict liability is
    without regard to
  • Fault.
  • Foreseeability.
  • Standard of Care.
  • Causation.
  • Liability is based on creation of extraordinary

Abnormally Dangerous Activities
  • Defendant is strictly liable for an
    abnormally dangerous activity if
  • Activity involves serious potential harm
  • Activity involves high degree of risk that cannot
    be made safe and
  • Activity is not commonly performed in the
    community or area.

Wild Animals
  • Persons who keep wild animals are strictly liable
    for injuries caused by the beast.
  • Persons who keep domestic animals are liable if
    the owner knew or should have known that animal
    was dangerous.

2 Product Liability
  • Product Liability is not a new tort.
  • Liability can be based on
  • Negligence
  • Misrepresentation or
  • Strict Liability
  • Warranty Theory.

Product Liability(Negligence)
  • Negligence-based product liability is based on a
    manufacturers breach of the reasonable standard
    of care and failing to make a product safe.

Product Liability(Negligence) 2
  • Manufacturer must exercise due care in
  • Designing products
  • Manufacturing and Assembling Products
  • Inspecting and Testing Products and
  • Placing adequate warning labels.

Product Liability(Negligence) 3
  • Manufacturers who violates state or federal law
    in the manufacture or labeling of a product, may
    be negligent per se.
  • No privity of contract required between Plaintiff
    and Manufacturer. Liability extends to any
    persons injuries caused by a negligently made
    (defective) product.

Product Liability(Misrepresentation)
  • Occurs when fraud committed against consumer or
    user of product.
  • Fraud must have been made knowingly or with
    reckless disregard for safety.
  • Plaintiff does not have to show product was

3 Strict Product Liability
  • Manufacturers liable without regard to fault
    based on public policy
  • Consumers must be protected from unsafe products
  • Manufacturers should be liable to any user of the
  • Manufacturers, sellers and distributors can bear
    the costs of injuries.

Strict Product Liability 2
  • Requirements for strict liability
  • Product is unreasonably dangerous when sold
    Defendant sells the product
  • Plaintiff injured by use or consumption of
    product and defective condition is the proximate
    cause of injury.
  • Greenman v.Yuba Power Products (1962).

Strict Product Liability 3
  • Plaintiff must show product was so defective
    it was unreasonably dangerous
  • Product was dangerous beyond ordinary consumer
    expectations OR
  • A less dangerous alternative was economically
    feasible but rejected.

Market Share Liability
  • Theory of liability when multiple Defendants
    contributed to manufacture of defective product.
  • Liability of each Defendant is proportionate to
    the share of the market held by each respective

Liability of Suppliers
  • Suppliers of Component Parts may be liable if
  • Component is defective at the time of
  • Supplier substantially participates in the
    design and integration of defective product.

Liability of Suppliers 2
  • Manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, sellers
    liable to an injured bystander who did not
    purchase, use or consumer the product.
  • Injuries to bystanders from defective products
    are reasonably foreseeable.

4 Strict LiabilityRestatement (3rd) of Torts
  • The terms unreasonably dangerous and
    defective are used interchangeably and subject
    to differing definitions by different courts.
  • Restatement defines three different types of
    defects manufacturing, design and warning

Strict Liability Manufacturing Defects
  • Occurs when a product departs from its intended
    design even though all possible care was
    exercised in the preparation and marketing of the

Strict Liability Design Defects
  • Occurs when the foreseeable risks of harm posed
    by the product could have been reduced or avoided
    by the adoption of a reasonable alternative . . .
    and the omission of the alternative design
    renders the product not reasonably safe.

Strict Liability Warning Defects
  • A product may be defective because of inadequate
    warnings or instructions.
  • Liability based on foreseeability that proper
    instructions/labels would have made the product
    safe to use.

Warning Defects 2
  • There is no duty to warn about obvious or
    commonly known risks.
  • Seller must also warn about injury due to product
    misuse. Key is whether misuse was foreseeable.

5 Defenses to Product Liability
  • Assumption of Risk.
  • Product Misuse (Plaintiff does not know the
    product is dangerous for a particular use).
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence.
  • Commonly known dangers.
  • Statutes of Limitation.

Case 6.1 Greenman v. Yuba Power Products(Strict
Product Liability)
  • A piece of wood flew out of the lathe attachment
    of a Shopsmith (a consumer power tool) while
    Greenman was using it, causing serious injuries.
  • Greenman sued the retailer and the manufacturer
    for breach of warranties and negligence.
  • The jury ruled in favor of Greenman, and the
    Defendants appealed.

Case 6.1 Greenman v. Yuba Power Products(Strict
Product Liability)
  • Greenman proved that the design and construction
    of the Shopsmith were defective and that his
    injuries were caused by the defects.
  • A manufacturer is strictly liable in tort when
    an article he places on the market, knowing that
    it is to be used without inspection for defects,
    proves to have a defect that causes injury to a
    human being.
  • Purpose of liability is for manufacturers to bear
    the costs.

Case 6.2 Embs v. Pepsi-Cola(Strict Product
  • Embs was buying groceries at Stampers Cash
  • A carton of 7-Up was sitting on the floor at the
    edge of the produce counter about one foot from
    where she was standing.
  • Several of the 7-Up bottles exploded severely
    injuring Embs.
  • Embs sued Pepsi but the court ruled against her
    and dismissed her case.
  • Embs appealed.

Case 6.2 Embs v. Pepsi-Cola(Strict Product
  • The appellate court extended the protection of
    the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 402A
    to bystanders whose injury from the defect is
    reasonably foreseeable.
  • The court based this extension on the policy that
    the loss for injuries resulting from defective
    products should be placed on those members of the
    marketing chain best able to pay the loss, who
    can then distribute such risk among themselves by
    means of insurance and indemnity agreements.

Case 6.3 Liriano v. Hobart Co.(Warning Defects)
  • Super Associated store bought a Hobart Corp. meat
    grinder that had no warning that it should be
    operated only with the safety guard.
  • Liriano, a SA employee, removed the guard and was
    severely injured when his hand was caught in the
    grinder. (Liriano was seventeen years old, a
    recent immigrant, and on the job only a week. He
    had not been told how to operate the grinder.)
  • He sued Hobart claiming that the lack of a
    warning about the safety guard was negligence.
    The jury returned a verdict for Liriano.
  • Hobart appealed, arguing that the danger was so
    obvious no warning was needed.

Case 6.3 Liriano v. Hobart Co.(Warning Defects)
  • A manufacturer can be liable for failing to warn
    about alterations, such as the removal of a
    safety guard, that would make its product unsafe.
  • It doesnt matter how obvious the danger is.
  • Even if most ordinary users may      know of
    the risk of using a guardless meat grinder, it
    does not follow that a sufficient number of them
    will     .

Case 6.4 Smith v. Ingersoll-Rand(Comparative
  • Smith was injured while attempting to start the
    diesel engine for a compressor manufactured by
    Ingersoll-Rand Company.
  • Smith, a mechanic, was not wearing a hard hat
    when he was dispatched to start the engine. The
    door had to be propped open.
  • Smith started the engine and the door fell from
    its open position and hit his head causing severe
    injury. Smith sued Ingersoll-Rand.
  • Ingersoll-Rand defended that Smiths failure to
    wear a hard hat and his propping the door open in
    an unsafe manner constituted contributory

Case 6.4 Smith v. Ingersoll-Rand(Comparative
  • The court recognized that under a system of
    comparative fault      , a plaintiff would
    still be able to recover if he was comparatively
    at fault for his injuries, but his recovery would
    be reduced in proportion to his percentage of