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Lawsuit!: Reducing the Risk of Product Liability for Manufacturers by Randall L. Goodden

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6

Product Testing

In most product liability cases there will be an expectation by the courts that the manufacturer tested and validated the product design before placing the product in the marketplace. This means not only testing to ensure reliable performance for the product's expected use, but going beyond that and including the aspect of “foreseeable misuse,” which is a perspective that will be new to most manufacturers and an important element of the “Product Liability Prevention” focus.

This question of whether the manufacturer ever tested the product will typically first surface during the interrogatory stage of a lawsuit, and depending on the relevance and outcome, could become a major point in the trial itself. As it would relate to the nature of the case and allegation, attorneys for the plaintiff will ask the question as to whether the product was ever tested during the development stage, and if the manufacturer answers to the affirmative, the attorneys will then request copies of the test report(s).

Any time a product is alleged to have malfunctioned in some catastrophic fashion, thereby leading to property damage or personal injury, a question will surface as to whether the manufacturer had prior knowledge of the possibility, or should have known. If a product overheated and allegedly started a fire, was the manufacturer aware of the fact that the product could overheat and actually start a fire? An end-user sits or stands on a product as intended, but the product breaks ...

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