Product liability is the liability of a producer, retailer importer, or supplier for any loss or injury caused by his product whether due to its defect and so forth. In the area of product liability, strict liability is common as in most cases, the alleged tortuous acts are strictly prohibited by statute.
Product liability cannot be restricted or excluded by any contract, either with a supplier, intermediary or the consumer. This liability exists whether or not the consumer bought the goods directly from the manufacturer or entered into any form of contract with the manufacturer of such medical products or devices.
In the case of Pearks, Gunsten & Tece V. Ward (1902) 2 KB1, Gammon V. A.G Hong Kong (1985) AC 1. The appellant company was held liable for the acts of its employees who sold its fresh butter mixed with water. Explaining on the strict liability nature of consumer protection laws in England, Channel J. in this case said that:
“ the legislature has thought it so important to prevent the particular act from being committed that it absolutely forbids it to be done, and if it is done the offender is liable to a penalty, whether he has any mens rea (guilty mind) or not and whether or not he intended to commit a breach of the law”.
Liability for Animals
In a situation where animal attacks and injure someone, the law of torts holds them (the owners) strictly liable for injuries caused by their animals. The liability for animals under the law of torts is classified in two:
- Scienter Action (Liability for Dangerous Animals)
- Cattle Trespass
Scienter Action (Liability for Dangerous Animals)
This part of the law of torts concerns liability for animals that are dangerous.
Liability in this situation is usually predicated in whether or not the owner of the animal had prior knowledge of the animals conduct. Scienter action classified dangerous animals under two categories:
- Animal Ferae naturae
- Animal Mansuetae Naturae
Animal Farea Naturae: These are animals which are dangerous by nature; they include lions, tigers, cheetahs, elephants and other wild animals that can cause harm to others.
Animal Mansuetae Naturae: These are animals that are normally tame but occasionally attack human beings and cause harm. A very good example of this is dogs. Dogs are tame, but once in while they attack and cause injury to human being.
In this situation, liability only arises if the owner of the animals had previous knowledge of the dangerous behavior of the animals.
Thus, what the plaintiff has to prove to establish liability is the fact that the animal had vicious tendency and the owner was aware of this tendency.
United State – Product Liability
In the United States, product liability law was developed primarily through case law from state courts as well as the Restatements of the Law produced by the American Law Institute (ALI).
The US was the birth place of modern product liability law during the 20th century, due to the 1963 Greenman decision which led to the emergence of product liability as a distinct field of private law. In 1993, it was reported that nonother country can match the United States for the number and diversity of its product liability cases, nor for the prominence of the subject in the eyes of the general public and legal practitioners.
this was still true as at 2015. In the United States, procuct liability continues to play a big role: litigation is much more frequent there than anywhere else in the world, awards are higher, and publicity is significant.
In U.S, the majority of product liability laws are determined at the state level and vary widely from state to state. Each type of product liability claim requires proof of different elements in order to present a valid claim.