A man using chemical paint remover was seriously injured when the substance ignited and burned him. He and his wife filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of that chemical, alleging the warning labels were inadequate and the product was defectively designed.
A federal district court in Illinois granted summary judgment to defendant in Suarez v. W.M. Barr & Co. on both of these counts. Recently, though, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed in part. Specifically, the court ruled that while the label on the product did accurately describe the primary risks for consumers, there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the product was defectively design based on theories of strict liability and negligence.
Strict product liability is a legal rule that holds sellers, distributors and/ or manufacturers of defective products liable to the person injured by that product, regardless of whether defendant was negligent. In a claim alleging negligence, a defendant’s standard of conduct is central to proving liability. That is, defendant acted in a way that fell below the standard of reasonable conduct. In strict liability cases, however, the idea is that it doesn’t matter how defendant acted. Instead, what must be shown is that the product was in unreasonably dangerous condition, the seller expected/ intended the product would reach the consumer without changes and plaintiff was injured by defective product. Continue reading →