If you are injured by a product – whether it’s a defective vehicle or a faulty power tool – proving the manufacturer (or anyone in the chain of distribution) liable involves (per the Third Restatement of Torts) the existence of alternative design the main test to ascertain whether a product is defective. This provision holds that a product is defective in design only when the foreseeable risk of harm posed by that product could have been reduced or avoided by the adoption of a reasonable alternative design by the seller.
However, many states have been highly critical of this test, and Florida is one of those places wherein it’s been explicitly rejected. In 2015, the Florida Supreme Court in the 68-page ruling of Aubin v. Union Carbide Corp. held that it would retain the approach of the Second Restatement of Torts (which does not place this additional burden on consumers). The court ruled that in some instances in strict liability claims, the Third Restatement might shield manufacturers from all liability for products that are unreasonably dangerous simply because an alternative design for that product might be unavailable – even when, in some cases, the product may be in defective condition that’s unreasonably dangerous to the user. Further, the Third Restatement runs contrary to case law precedent set in this state, the court held.
However, federal courts often still use this test (though state law may still be applied). But as a recent case before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals shows, there is still opportunity to prevail. Continue reading →