Product Liability Essay

This essay has a total of 2375 words and 11 pages.

Product Liability



Product Liability


Every day American consumers purchase products that they feel are beneficial to there
development. Where that lies depends on the consumer. However, One underling variable is a
constant when it comes to purchasing the product. That variable is whether or not the
product is right for them. When the consumer purchases a product, they are liable for
whatever mishaps may occur and accidents that may happen. But producers are not completely
free from the liability of their product to their consumers. This is where product
liability legal issues come from, a segment of the law which has seen its fare share of
turmoil and difficulties.


Product liability is the producer’s requirement to warn the consumer of and any possible
troubles associated with the product. This is usually done with a warning label attached
to the product, or is found via flyer form in the instruction manual. Sports and
recreational equipment cause serious injuries everyday. There are many reasons for the
cause of injury, but most cases of injury are due to product defects. These defects are
manufacturing, design, and failure to adequately warn. Besides the product defects,
consumers are exposed to other forms of potential mishaps, which are negligence, breach of
warranty, and strict tort legal responsibility.


Because America is a society largely dependent upon the outside means in which to
entertain themselves, many Americans are changing from the casual spectator to that of the
exuberant participator. Therefore, the number of accidents associated with products has
risen. Subsequently, so have the court cases and trials.


Product liability comes into play when the product breaks, or doesn’t perform up to
regulation standards set forth by the producer. In more cases than not, there is some form
of injury sustained due to product defect or claims. So in short, the definition of
product liability is the responsibility of the manufacturer to the user if the use of its
product results in personal injury or property damage (Legal Concepts, 122).



Sports and recreational equipment cause serious injuries everyday. There are many reasons
for the cause of injury, but most cases of injury are due to product defects (Swartz).
These defects are manufacturing, design, and failure to adequately warn. As I have already
stated in the beginning of this analysis, product liability has three main theories under
which recovery can be made. These recoveries are:

· Negligence
· Strict liability
· Breach of warranty

Negligence is the understanding that the producer or manufacturer has the responsibility
or duty to applicate a reasonable degree of care. Many people fail to realize that a
negligence action in not under a duty to insure that its product will not cause injury;
rather, the product merely has to be reasonably safe. The most common incidence of
negligence is the manufacturers failure to inspect or test a product. Another common
incidences of negligence is the defendants failure to sufficiently caution the user of the
dangers the defendant knew about. Another is breach of warranty. Studies have shown that
the care taken by manufacturers to warrant reasonable process to the consumer has a lot to
be desired. From 1982 to 1984 there were 161 deaths and 128,000 injuries caused by ATV’s .
This lack of duty can be as much to blame for there petulance as it does to their
marketing exploits.


One of the most common incidences of negligence associated with products in the
manufacturers failure to inspect or test the product. When inspecting the product could
have led to discovery of an injury-causing defect, the producer is liable. McCormick V.
Lowe & Campbell Athletic Goods disclosed a variety of factors on the reasonableness of the
inspection. These factors can include industry advances, the seriousness of the possible
harm, the likelihood of the possible harm, and the feasibility of the inspection. In
McCormick V. Lowe, the plaintiff claimed the defendant company furnished a vaulting pole
that broke while the plaintiff was attempting to use it. The plaintiff brought a
negligence action to recover the injuries he sustained in the fall that resulted in the
inferior product. The court held that a manufacturer of a product is under a duty to
exercise ordinary care to test products to determine whether or not such products contain
defects, which can be rendered unsafe when used for an intended purpose. The court
concluded that a failure to perform such a duty will leave the manufacturer liable to the
person who is injured as a result of that violation.


When inspecting the product could have led to discovery of an injury-causing defect, the
producer is liable. The infamous Bernick v. Judern case reiterates this understanding. A
hockey mouth guard shattered when the player was struck between his nose and lips. The
product was advertised as providing “maximum protection to the lips and teeth.” It was
alleged that there was a breach of express and implied warranties. The plaintiff’s upper
jaw was fractured, three of his teeth were totally knocked out, and part of a fourth tooth
was broken off. The plaintiff sued the manufacturer of the mouth guard alleging breach of
express and implied warranties. The trial court had entered summary judgment for the
defendants, and the appellate court reversed and remanded. The court also noted that,
although the plaintiff’s mother purchased the mouth guard, the plaintiff was a third-party
beneficiary and was therefore entitled to the same express warranty which she received as
the purchaser. In addition, the court disagreed with the defendant’s contention that the
plaintiff’s claim for breach implied warranty was barred by lack of privity, and stated
that privity was not required.


In some cases the duty of a retailer to inspect for defects, however, is limited when it
would be reasonable for the retailer to rely on the manufacturers expertise or skill.
Outwater V. Miller is an example of a suit brought forth against the wrong party.
Apparently, Outwater, an importer and distributor purchased a partially assembled bike in
a sealed carton from the manufacturer, and sold the bike, still in package, to a
wholesaler, who then in turn sold the bike to a retailer. The retailer assembled the bike
and sold it to the plaintiff. Some days later, the front tire came off the bike causing
injuries to the plaintiff. The plaintiff, angered, brought a negligence action against the
importer, wholesaler, and the retailer.


The court however, explained that in a negligence action, if a vendor buys a product from
a reputable source of supply, he will be justified in assuming that the product is free
from defects, and thus, in under no duty to inspect the product, assuming the product was
safe.
Continues for 6 more pages >>




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