Torts

QWhat are the two types of product defects?
AThe two types of defects are: (1) manufacturing defects and (2) design defects.
QWhat must a plaintiff establish to prove a manufacturing defect exists?
AA plaintiff must establish that the product is different from all others that were manufactured, and that the difference makes it more dangerous than a consumer would expect.
QWhat must a plaintiff establish to prove a design defect?
ATo prove a design defect, a plaintiff must establish that an alternative design exists that is (1) safer than the actual product (2) cost effective (same price or only marginally more expensive), and (3) practical (the safety doesn’t render the product difficult to use).
QWhat is the role of warnings and instructions in design defects?
AWarnings and instructions are part of a product’s design. Therefore, deficient warnings or instructions are almost always a design defect.
QChuck is the owner of a Handy-Man brand screwdriver. One day while doing some home improvement, Chuck uses the screwdriver to pry open a stubborn can of paint. The screwdriver breaks, and the broken tip stabs Chuck in the eye. Chuck sues Handy-Man, who defends on the grounds that Chuck was not using the screwdriver for screwing and that Handy-Man is therefore not liable. What result?
AChuck will prevail. In order to prevail on a strict liability claim, a plaintiff must be engaged in a foreseeable use of the product. However, foreseeable uses are broader than the mere intended uses of a product. Although a screwdriver is made for screwing, it is foreseeable that it would be used to pry open a paint can. Therefore Handy-Man’s defense will be unsuccessful.
QSame question as the previous card, except that Handy-Man defends on the ground that Chuck has left the screw driver near his welding equipment, and that his heating and cooling of the metal made it brittle, leading it to break more easily.
AIf Handy-Man can prove those facts, Chuck will lose. In order to prevail on a manufacturing defect claim, the product must have been defective when it left the defendant’s possession. Proof of Handy-Man’s allegations would show that the screwdriver was not defective when Handy-Man last had possession.
 

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