§1: Strict Liability • Theory of strict liability started with Rylands v. Fletcher (1868 England). • Defendant’s liability for strict liability is without regard to: Fault, Foreseeability, Standard of Care or Causation. • Liability is based on abnormally dangerous activities.
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 manufacturer’s breach of the reasonable standard of care and failing to make a product safe. • Case 6.1:Jarvis v. Ford Motor Co. (2002)
Product Liability(Negligence) • Manufacturer must exercise “due care” in: • Designing products; • Manufacturing and Assembling Products; • Inspecting and Testing Products; and • Placing adequate warning labels.
Product Liability(Negligence) • Manufacturers who violate 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 person’s 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 defective.
§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 product; • Manufacturers, sellers and distributors can bear the costs of injuries.
Strict Product Liability • 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. • Case 6.2:Greenman v.Yuba Power Products (1962).
Requirements for Strict Product Liability Plaintiff must show product was so “defective” it was “unreasonably dangerous”: • Product must be in defective condition when sold. • Defendant is in the business of selling the product. • Product must be unreasonably dangerous. • Plaintiff must be physically harmed • Defective condition must be proximate cause of injury. • Goods are in substantially same condition.
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 Defendant.
Product Defects • Three types of product defects: • Manufacturing defects. • Design defects. • Warning Defects
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 product.”
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. • Case 6.3: Liriano v. Hobart Co. (1999).
Warning Defects • 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.
§4: Defenses to Product Liability • Assumption of Risk. • Product Misuse (Plaintiff does not know the product is dangerous for a particular use). • Contributory/Comparative Negligence. • Case 6.4: Smith v. Ingersoll-Rand Co (2000). • Commonly known dangers. • Statutes of Limitation.
Law on the Web • American Law Institute. • Horvitz and Levy. • Tobacco Product Liability. • Legal Research Exercises on the Web.