In an article published in Manufacturing Today, Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Jessie Zeigler and Sarah Miller provided insight on how companies can protect themselves and avoid liability in situations when their product is misused in a harmful manner. Product liability laws allow for plaintiffs to sue for personal or property injury caused by a product, and are frequently brought against manufacturers under the theory that the product was defective or unreasonably dangerous.

Requirements for cases vary from state to state, but generally for products to be found “defective” they must:

  1. contain a manufacturing defect;
  2. have a defective design such that foreseeable risks of harm by use of the product could have been reduced or avoided by using a reasonable alternative design; or
  3. have a marketing defect, such as inadequate instructions or warnings to reduce foreseeable and/or nonobvious risks.

Companies involved in product liability cases should ensure they are aware of state statutes, given that some states require product liability cases to be brought under a products liability act, and some manufacturers may be protected by preemption through federal law. “Plaintiffs’ lawyers are creative, and as a result product liability cases are increasingly complex, varied and state-specific. Be proactive and vigilant when your company creates new products, or modifies a product, warning label, or instructions to ensure the product is safe and that the warnings are sound,” according to Jessie and Sarah.

The full article, “Be Proactive: Could Next Month’s Craze Put Your Company At Risk?” was published by Manufacturing Today in July 2018.