B risk benefit test product defective in design even

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b. Risk-Benefit test – product defective in design even if it satisfies ordinary consumer expectations, if through hindsight the jury determined the product design embodies “excessive preventable danger.” i. If jury finds that the risk of danger inherent in the challenged design outweighs the benefit of such design. c. OCF product violated minimum safety assumptions i. Evidence of what scientific community knew about dangers of asbestos is not relevant to show what an ordinary consumer of OCF product reasonably expected in terms of safety. d. Holding: judgment against D affirmed. iii. Warner Fruehauf Trailer Co v. Boston – malfunction of liftgate, platform fell free, hitting D, strict liability for defective design a. D argues for strict liability, P must establish that D sold the product in question in a defective and unreasonably dangerous condition. b. Risk-utility test – P must show risks, costs, benefits of product and alternative designs, and that danger outweighed costs of avoiding danger. c. Expert testimony – alternative designs that were available would have prevented a free fall. i. Alternatives a nominal cost, caused no reduction in utility, would have prevented free fall. d. As a matter of law, the liftgate was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous; no reasonably juror could find Boston had assumed the risk of being injured. iv. Factors of risk-utility a. Usefulness and desirability - Luxury items have low utility b. Safety aspects c. Availability of substitute product d. Ability to eliminate unsafe character of product – feasible alternative of design in terms of cost and functionality e. User ability to avoid danger by exercising care (not complete defense) f. User anticipated awareness of the dangers –warnings g. Availability of liability insurance i. Risk-utility supplanted consumer expectation test in some states; many states use both ii. Even in consumer expectation state, D typically will argue no alternative way to make product, therefore risk was unavoidable, P will argue safer way of making product v. Denny v. Ford Motor Company – P’s Ford Bronco II flipped; sued for negligence, 32
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strict products liability, and breach of implied warranty of merchantability a. Ps argued dangerous design; D argued design features were necessary for off-road, purpose it was designed for b. Jury found Bronco II was not “defective” so D was not liable under strict liability; also found D had breached its implied warranty of merchantability and that breach was proximate cause of injuries; P was awarded $1.2 million c. Court said those two findings were not irreconcilable d. Reasoning: Design defect can use strict products liability if product is not reasonably safe. i. Negligence-like risk/benefit component – assessment of manufacturer’s conduct is virtually inevitable (negligence) 1. Weighs dangers against over-all advantages ii.
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Christopher Reinemann
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