8Legal Trends to Process Liability

Historically and currently, customer injury or harm that occurs because of a defective product or service is viewed within a context of product liability. A person is harmed by a product or service and the existence of a defective unit is necessary to that complaint. This position is held even if there are hundreds of injuries. Then hundreds of bad units must be found. The present approach to large‐scale product nonconformity is in the form of class action suits. Individuals, perhaps scattered all over the country, come forward one by one and present their individual evidence.

8.1 An Idea Whose Time Has Come

The idea of process liability is, at present, just that—an idea. The possibility that a system may be producing hundreds, if not thousands, of nonconforming units unknowingly because no one is looking is still beyond consideration.

Although the idea of process liability is not yet explicit in the judicial system, courts are moving in that direction in that they are increasingly concerned with management use of good business practices (Boehm & Ulmer, 2009a). A cause and effect relation between process and product is not yet established in law, but we are getting there. Decisions in class action suits indicate that the law now views manufacturing and service as a set of interrelated ...

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