XX. Products Liability: Manufacturing Defects | Jonathan Zittrain | June 24, 2011

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XX. Products Liability: Manufacturing Defects

by Jonathan Zittrain Show/Hide

If you’re hurt by a poorly made product, you might well have a straightforward negligence case against the manufacturer. But as mass production ramped up over the last century, some judges found the existing negligence frame unsatisfactory. Escola is famous not for its majority opinion but its concurrence, one in which Justice Traynor urges a seemingly entirely new regime for the burgeoning number of cases in which a product hurts a consumer: strict liability.

Within a few years, Traynor’s vision become a majority one in many jurisdictions, including his own California, though with enough caveats that the “strict” is probably no longer the best moniker. Instead, it’s a regime all its own: products liability.

Today’s and tomorrow’s cases look at products liability and its caveats, including what would become three major types of cases brought under its rubric: manufacturing defect, design defect, and failure of warnings. As you read this cases, it’s worth considering, both in theory and in practice, when a case that would work under products liability would fail in plain negligence – or vice versa.

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    1. 1.1 Show/Hide More MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co.--"The Broken Wooden Wheel Case"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
      Should a manufacturer be liable for harm caused by defective products if the person harmed is not the person whom the manufacturer sold the product to?
    2. 1.2 Show/Hide More Ryan v. Progressive Grocery Stores, Inc. -- "The Pin in the Bread Case"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
      Should mere sellers of a defective good be liable for latent defects that are likely created by the manufacturer?
    3. 1.3 Show/Hide More Escola v. Coca Cola Bottling Company of Fresno--"The Exploding Coke Bottle Case"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
      Should manufacturers face potential towards any individual injured by defective products, even if there is no direct transaction between the injured individual and the manufacturer?
    1. 2.1 Show/Hide More Keen v. Dominick's Finer Foods, Inc. -- "The Defective Shopping Cart"
      Original Creator: Glapion86 Current Version: Jonathan Zittrain
      Should businesses be liable for defective products which are gratuitously provided to facilitate sales, and are not objects of sale themselves?
    1. 3.1 Show/Hide More Rix v. General Motors Corp. -- "The Truck that couldn't Brake"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
      This case contrasts manufacturing and design defects by analyzing each products liability theory in parallel.
    1. 4.1 Show/Hide More Emery v. Federated Foods, Inc. -- "The Toddlers Shouldn't Eat Marshmallows Case"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
      Aside from manufacturing and design defects, should courts hold manufacturer's liable for a failure to warn customers of the risks involved in the use of a product?
    1. 5.1 Show/Hide More Restatement Approach to Products Liability
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
      What appears to be the essential differences between the two approaches?
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October 17, 2013

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