Your posts must pertain to any of the topics: Intentional & Business Torts; Negligence & Strict Liability.
One thing that tends to give lawyers a bad name is that they are often accused of suing anyone and everyone whenever they can. While this may be a good justification for why people tend to dislike lawyers, the reality is that why lawyers file lawsuits naming numerous defendants at a time is that by doing so they hope to ensure the greatest possible likelihood of a full recovery for their client’s injuries. This is not only common sense when it comes to protecting a client’s rights it is also most often just plain “good business.”
An example of what appears at first glance to be mere litigious behavior on the part of lawyers lies in the area of product liability where not only manufacturers of products but also suppliers, distributors and retailers in the entire chain of distribution of a product can be found liable for injury to a plaintiff under the concept of strict liability.
Strict liability (often referred to as “liability without fault”) ultimately means that a plaintiff need only prove that a product was defective and that he/she was injured as a result of that defect. To incur liability, all a company in the chain of distribution has to do is sell the product or move it along the “chain.” The plaintiff does not need to prove negligence and the seller doesn’t need to know of the defect.
This may seem harsh to some of you but establishing precisely who erred when someone is injured can be a complicated undertaking. In cases of defective products, a product could potentially have been designed improperly (designer’s fault) or it could contain a defect that occurred during the manufacturing process, it could have been mishandled during distribution (shipment or storage) or at the point of sale (your local retailer) or even marketed improperly (was improperly labeled/contain faulty instructions). How does one determine where the actual negligence occurred?
Because this process is so complicated, U.S. common law has essentially established the concept of strict liability as a matter of public policy— to protect the public from unsafe products. If you sue a bunch of defendants up and down the chain of distribution in these sorts of cases and can establish both a defect and your injuries, it is up to the defendants to iron out their respective shares of responsibility. In practice, this means that their respective insurance companies and their respective insurance companies’ attorneys argue who is most at fault (typically, outside of the court room) while a jury determines the degree to which a plaintiff may also have been at fault and then awards the plaintiff with the appropriate level of damages that is merited by the facts.
What do you think about this?
And, as you mull that question (and your answer) over, consider the fact that long before the infamous McDonald’s “coffee spill” case (Stella Liebeck v. McDonald’s in your text) where McDonald’s had been put on notice by way of over 700 burn claims in the ten years preceding Stella Liebeck’s case, there were also numerous accidents involving defective playground equipment at McDonald’s restaurants that resulted in serious injuries to children and, that McDonald’s failed to act upon these cases until it was sued multiple times and ultimately fined $4 million by the U.S government (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission). It is important to note that McDonald’s was not the manufacturer of this equipment in these cases. See: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1999-06-30/news/9906300151_1_playground-industry-mcdonald-injuries (Links to an external site.)
See also: http://injury.findlaw.com/product-liability/what-is-product-liability.html (Links to an external site.)
http://www.marlerclark.com/pdfs/chain-of-distribution-liability.pdf (Links to an external site.)
http://corporate.findlaw.com/litigation-disputes/when-playtime-goes-wrong.html (Links to an external site.)
http://www.koonz.com/the-chain-of-distribution-in-product-liability-cases (Links to an external site.)
and, a much more recent case in Pennsylvania:
Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc., at:https://www.reedsmith.com/files/uploads/DrugDeviceLawBlog/Tincher%20majority.pdf (Links to an external site.)