PERSONAL INJURY I PRODUCT LIABILITY I CASE STUDY: What is a Negligence Product Liability Claim?
February 25, 2021
In a negligence product liability claim, the injured consumer must establish that the defective product was defective or otherwise unreasonably dangerous. This burden is proved by satisfying the basic elements of negligence (1) that the manufacturer, designer, retailer or distributor of the consumer product owed a duty of care towards the plaintiff; (2) that the manufacturer, designer, retailed or distributor of the consumer product breached that duty, and was otherwise negligent; and (3) as a proximate result of such breach that defendant caused the alleged injuries to the consumer. Similar to strict product liability claim the question as to whether a product is unreasonable dangerous and otherwise defective is a question of fact for a jury to decide in a product liability jury trial or a judge while presiding over a product liability bench trial.
Product liability cases, how to establish negligence product liability? In order to establish causation in a negligence product liability claim the injured consumer must prove that the injury was caused by the manufacturer or designer’s breach of its duty to produce a reasonably safe product. If the manufacturer or designer failed to produce a reasonably safe product, considering the intended use and reasonably foreseeable use of the product, then that defendant can be found liable for negligence.
The precedent case defining negligence in the product liability context is Marzullo v. Crosman Corp., 289 F. Supp. 2d 1337 (M.D. Fla. 2003). A man was seriously injured after he was shot in the head by a BB gun. In response to the incident, the parents of a young consumer alleged that the purchased BB gun was defectively designed with excessive muzzle velocity and contained inadequate warnings. In the product liability claim the parents of the minor consumer sued the manufacturer of a BB gun alleging numerous causes of action including: (1) design defect strict liability, (2) product liability for failure to warn and (3) negligent product liability. Ultimately the court ruled in favor of the gun manufacturer, holding that muzzle velocity is not a condition of the gun, as such there could be no defective design and was not unreasonably dangerous. Further the court concluded that the warnings accompanying the gun were clear and reasonable, specifically addressing that misuse or careless use could lead to serious injury or death, which is additionally, an open and obvious risk of harm.
In this instance the manufacturer of BB gun was not found to be negligent for product liability on two specific grounds: (1) if the defect is not a condition or part of the product then the product could not be found to be defectively designed; and further (2) the warning of misuse or careless use, which the court found to be open and obvious, served as a sufficient warning in this particular instance. Consumers injured by a manufacturing defect, design defect and/or a failure to warn have a personal injury claim. More specifically consumers injured by a product may have a viable product liability lawsuit if there were inadequate product warnings or the product was defectively designed. California product liability law recognizes that every product liability case is distinct, unique and must be considered on an individualized basis.
For more articles discussing negligence product liability and product liability cases please see the links below:
There are two types of product liability claims. The distinction between strict product liability claims versus negligent product liability claims are discussed in the articles linked below:
Additional articles discussing compensatory damages in personal injury actions, including negligence, premises liability and product liability cases are linked below:
To better understand what types of damages are recoverable in product liability cases and other personal injury cases, links are included below:
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