A manufacturing defect is a flaw in the production of a product that makes the product less useful or valuable or—even worse—could cause the product to break and hurt someone. People and consumers who have been victimized by a dangerous or broken product can file a products liability lawsuit against the company responsible for their setbacks and recover the compensation that they deserve.
The products liability lawyers at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help.
What is a Manufacturing Defect?
A manufacturing defect is something that went wrong while a product was being made. After a manufacturing defect, a product that does not conform to the original designs will leave the factory and enter the market for people to buy and use.
Because defectively manufactured products are different from the design they were supposed to meet, they tend to happen in small batches. Rather than every single product being dangerous, it is often only one or a small few. As a result, products liability claims that are based on manufacturing defects tend to be filed individually, rather than in a class action or in multidistrict litigation.
Examples of manufacturing defects include:
- Prescription drugs that do not have the right chemical doses
- Meat that has been exposed to dangerous bacteria, like e. coli
- Power tools that are missing an important screw
- Furniture that did not come with all of its parts
While nearly all manufacturing defects claims revolve around a product that broke and hurt someone, some argue that the product was defective because it did not perform as well as it was supposed to.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Manufacturing Defect?
Contrary to popular belief, the company that actually manufactures the defective product is not the only party that can be held responsible for losses that stem from the defect. The company that sold the product to the victim can be held liable, too.
If the seller could not have known about the defect, they can try to recover indemnification from the manufacturer – or compensation for what the seller had to pay to the actual victim who was hurt by the defective product.
How to Hold a Defendant Strictly Liable for a Manufacturing Defect
Many manufacturing defect claims are based on strict liability. These claims are the easiest to prove because it does not require evidence that the responsible party acted negligently. Instead, they are held liable for the results, even if they did everything they could to prevent them from happening.
In Pennsylvania, victims of defectively manufactured products have to prove three things:
- The product was defective
- The defect existed when it left the defendant's possession
- The defect caused the victim harm
Under the rules of the Pennsylvania case Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc., to show that a product was “defective,” they have to show one of two things:
- The danger in the product was something that a reasonable consumer would not have expected, or
- The defective product's risks outweighed the costs of making it safer.
The Consumer Expectation Test
The first option is called the consumer expectation test.
In Pennsylvania, victims can use the consumer expectation test to establish that there was a manufacturing defect by showing that the product was unacceptably dangerous and that a reasonable consumer had no way of knowing or appreciating the danger.
The Risk-Utility Test
The second option is often called the risk-utility test.
Victims in Pennsylvania can prove that a product was defectively manufactured by showing that it carried serious risks to people who properly used it, and those risks could have been mitigated through feasible and reasonable safety measures.
How to Hold a Defendant Liable for Negligently Causing a Manufacturing Defect
Companies can also be held responsible for manufacturing defects by proving that those defects were the result of the defendants' negligence. These claims involve showing that the company who made or sold the product had:
- A legal duty to keep the victim safe,
- Breached that legal duty, and
- Caused the victim's losses and injuries.
These cases are more complicated than those that rely on strict liability, though, because they have to go further than just showing that the product was defectively made. They also have to show that the defendant had a legal duty to keep the consumer safe.
Common Defenses to Overcome in a Manufacturing Defect Claim
Companies that make products have several common defenses that they use whenever they are accused of defectively manufacturing something. They are:
- The victim was misusing the product in a way that the company could not have foreseen or that was unreasonable
- The victim was aware of the risk but continued to use the product
- The product was defective, but the victim was also acting negligently and that led to their injuries
- The victim had agreed to a disclaimer that limited the defendant's liability for defects
Overcoming these defenses is critical for victims who want to make a full financial recovery.
Statute of Limitations for Product Liability Claims in Pennsylvania
All product liability claims filed in Pennsylvania – including those that are based on defectively manufactured products – have to abide by the state's statute of limitations. This statute of limitations is found at 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524, and requires the lawsuit be filed before two years have passed since the defective product hurt the victim.
Victims who do not comply with the demands of the statute of limitations are likely to see their claims dismissed with little fanfare or discussion.
Products Liability Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
Companies that make mistakes or that cut corners when they manufacture their products should be taken to task when that negligence or their poor conduct leads to a consumer getting hurt. Victims deserve to be compensated when they were hurt through no or little fault of their own, and the products liability lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian strive to make that happen.
Contact them online if you or a loved one has been hurt by a defectively manufactured product in Philadelphia.