Products liability... State of the Art Defense..HELP

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creatinganalt
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Products liability... State of the Art Defense..HELP

Postby creatinganalt » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:36 pm

Hi,

Going through torts and products liability and my notes MAKE NO SENSE on this particular issue

How does a state of the art defense comport with a strict liability failure to warn? Is it dead as a defense? Was in my notes as a side issue but now I can't work out whether or not scientific unknowability releases a manufacturer from liability or not.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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kswiss
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Re: Products liability... State of the Art Defense..HELP

Postby kswiss » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:40 pm

I have it as a defense for misdesign, which includes defective warning I guess. But yeah, I believe it is a complete defense unless you can prove that the entire class of products is so unreasonably dangerous that they should just not be allowed on the market. An example might be a jetpack or something. It may be state of the art and it is scientifically impossible to create a safer design + no amount of warning makes the risk reasonable, but you could be held liable just for releasing such a dangerous product into the market. I think that's pretty rare though.

ogurty
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Re: Products liability... State of the Art Defense..HELP

Postby ogurty » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:42 pm

We didn't cover a separate "state of the art" defense, but the standard for unknown defects at the time of manufacturing is "scientifically knowable", that is, knowable to a vigilant expert. If better research would have revealed the defect, the manufacturer is liable; if no one or very few isolated people knew of the defect, then probably not liable.

thwalls
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Re: Products liability... State of the Art Defense..HELP

Postby thwalls » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:48 pm

I'm not sure if you guys worked on it, but we looked at Products liability before the third restatement and after (since some courts still do not apply the third restatement due to statute). The third restatement allows for "foreseeability" defenses (i.e. State of the Art) in defective design and defective warning but the cases leading up to the third restatement such as Greenman, Phillips v. Kimwood, and Beshada all blow up the State of the Art defense because that is Reasonable Care argument which pushes the case back into negligence and away from Strict liability. In our class were're supposed to presume that the court could go either way (which sucks).

cavebat2000
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Re: Products liability... State of the Art Defense..HELP

Postby cavebat2000 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:54 pm

state of the art = so new/cutting edge that the risks are not yet known.

creatinganalt
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Re: Products liability... State of the Art Defense..HELP

Postby creatinganalt » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:01 am

Thanks guys

my prof is really into the policy stuff and this is one area in which the rationales seem random. I'm just going to argue that it's not a good defense because it's not really strict, or it is depending on how intuitively the facts lie.

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ChattTNdt
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Re: Products liability... State of the Art Defense..HELP

Postby ChattTNdt » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:23 am

State of the Art defense- at the time of production, based on the technological knowledge in existence at the time, the manufacturer is not liable if they a) didn't know / could not have known about the design defect, b) didn't know / could not have known about the alternative design, or c) the alternative design was not feasible based on the state of knowledge at the time.

Only applies to design defect and failure to adequately warn

Pretty straightforward. At least, it is in Louisiana.

creatinganalt
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Re: Products liability... State of the Art Defense..HELP

Postby creatinganalt » Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:50 am

^

Sorry, just to follow up then, does this just mean scientifically unknowable or is that a different standard? When applied to strict failure to warn (not negligent). Trying to work out if this is a defense to strict failure to warn or part of the standard. Doesn't help that it seems to be mean customary standard on the rest of the legal internets.

My prof just teaches 95% policy and this is killing me but it always comes up!!

keg411
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Re: Products liability... State of the Art Defense..HELP

Postby keg411 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:59 am

creatinganalt wrote:^

Sorry, just to follow up then, does this just mean scientifically unknowable or is that a different standard? When applied to strict failure to warn (not negligent). Trying to work out if this is a defense to strict failure to warn or part of the standard. Doesn't help that it seems to be mean customary standard on the rest of the legal internets.

My prof just teaches 95% policy and this is killing me but it always comes up!!


Do you mean Warning Label defects for PL? Test for a warning label defect is whether the product was the type of product that needed a warning label and had an inadequate warning label or no warning label and the lack of warning label proximately caused the P's injury (i.e. if the P was injured and whether or not the product had a warning label wouldn't have made a difference, the manufacturer is off the hook).

I have no clue what the "State of the Art" defense is, though, but that's the "Failure to Warn" in PL that we learned about.

thwalls
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Re: Products liability... State of the Art Defense..HELP

Postby thwalls » Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:13 pm

keg411 wrote:
creatinganalt wrote:^

Sorry, just to follow up then, does this just mean scientifically unknowable or is that a different standard? When applied to strict failure to warn (not negligent). Trying to work out if this is a defense to strict failure to warn or part of the standard. Doesn't help that it seems to be mean customary standard on the rest of the legal internets.

My prof just teaches 95% policy and this is killing me but it always comes up!!


Do you mean Warning Label defects for PL? Test for a warning label defect is whether the product was the type of product that needed a warning label and had an inadequate warning label or no warning label and the lack of warning label proximately caused the P's injury (i.e. if the P was injured and whether or not the product had a warning label wouldn't have made a difference, the manufacturer is off the hook).

I have no clue what the "State of the Art" defense is, though, but that's the "Failure to Warn" in PL that we learned about.



The "state of the Art" defense is found in Beshada v Johns-Mansville which was the case that put the smack down on using Asbestos. Essentially, the defense raised the argument that they could not be held strictly liable for failure to warn since no one in the asbestos industry understood the harms of asbestos (i.e. the "state of the art") at the time they were using it. The court said that it didn't matter because they only care about the defective product and not the reasonable care of the defendant. It's certainly a case prior to the third restatement. But my professor hates the third restatement so we have to address both 402A under the second restatement and products liability under the 3rd restatement.




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