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Product liability

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**1. Product Liability Laws and Adoption:**

– Most countries address product liability through legislation, either by enacting separate acts or adding rules to existing codes.
– The US and EU are leading models for strict liability in defective products.
– Product liability laws in the US are primarily determined at the state level, leading to wide variations among states.
– Traynor’s opinions in landmark cases laid the foundation for modern product liability laws in the US.
– Factors behind the nationwide adoption of strict liability include a consensus for consumer protection and new legal theories.

**2. Historical Development and Landmark Cases:**

– The birthplace of modern product liability law was in the US during the 20th century.
– Early common law approaches shifted towards a no-liability regime for products before evolving towards implied warranties.
– Landmark cases like MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co. and Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, Inc. shaped modern product liability laws.
– Competing visions for product liability were presented in the mid-20th century, leading to the adoption of strict liability in defective products.
– Prosser’s Restatement of Torts, Second in 1965, propagated the Greenman holding nationwide.

**3. Types of Product Liability and Theories of Liability:**

– Product liability encompasses manufacturing defects, design defects, and failure-to-warn defects.
– Theories of liability include breach of warranty, negligence, strict liability, and consumer protection statutes.
– Negligence claims require proof of duty owed, breach of duty, causation, and quantifiable injury.
Strict liability simplifies the burden of proof for the plaintiff in product liability cases.
– Breach of warranty claims historically required privity and focus on express or implied warranties.

**4. Factors Affecting Product Liability Cases and Trends:**

– Factors contributing to the high number of product liability cases in the US include low filing fees, class actions, and high monetary awards.
– The unintended application of Section 402A to design defects led to a surge in mass tort product liability cases in the 1980s.
– American federal judges increasingly relied on multidistrict litigation to manage complex civil cases.
– Tort reform efforts in the 1980s led to limitations like damage caps and statutes of repose in many states.
– The US has the highest awards of monetary damages globally in product liability cases.

**5. International Efforts and Challenges in Product Liability:**

– International efforts like the Council of Europe Convention and the EU Product Liability Directive aimed to harmonize product liability laws.
– Challenges in enforcing product liability laws in Europe include limited discovery compared to American standards.
– Civil law countries oppose broad discovery in civil litigation, leading to obstacles in investigating product liability cases.
– Difficulty in proving the standard of care of a reasonable drug manufacturer under English law was a notable challenge.
– Victims in some cases could only make negligence claims sounding in tort due to legal constraints.

Product liability (Wikipedia)

Product liability is the area of law in which manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers, and others who make products available to the public are held responsible for the injuries those products cause. Although the word "product" has broad connotations, product liability as an area of law is traditionally limited to products in the form of tangible personal property.

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