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Why the Customer Can't Always Be Right in Product Liability Litigation

March 20, 2018 - Westlaw Journal Medical Devices
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Even though the Third Restatement has rejected the consumer expectations test for proving strict liability design defect claims, a number of states still apply both that test and the risk-utility test. The former considers whether a product met the reasonable safety expectations of consumers; the latter inquires whether the benefits of the design outweigh the risks, relative to feasible alternative designs.

Courts retaining the consumer expectations test have expressed concern that the risk-utility test improperly considers manufacturer negligence — a concept at odds with the concept of strict liability.

But what happens when the nature of the alleged product failure is so complex that it is beyond the understanding of ordinary customers? Should liability turn on some vague understanding of a consumer expectation — likely to be little more than an assertion that the product would not cause an injury — or should the manufacturer have an opportunity to present evidence defending the product design under the risk-utility test?

Read the article here.

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