A federal court in New Jersey says that retailers can indeed be held strictly
liable for selling defective products. The case is
DeGennaro v. Rally Manufacturing.
In this New Jersey products liability case, the plaintiff sued the manufacturer and seller of a lead-acid battery that he said exploded while in his hand. The judge found that Pep Boys’ management either should have or already knew that the battery was at risk of exploding because it had heat-sealed packaging. The court therefore determined that Pep Boys could not avail of the safe harbor provisions that protect sellers for being liable for products liability.
Under the New Jersey Product Liability Act, there are safe harbor provisions that under certain conditions protect product sellers. To avail of these, the seller must be able to identify the maker from whom damages should be sought and cannot have created the product defect. However, if a seller knew/should have known that the product was defective, then safe harbor cannot be obtained. InDeGennaro, not only was there evidence that Pep Boys knew about the defect but also, despite this knowledge, the store kept selling the battery.
Generally, someone who is injured by a defective product can hold the seller liable. One reason for this is that liability can occur during any point in the chain of distribution and production, which means that not just the manufacturer may be found responsible. It is also uncommon for the product’s distributor to be held accountable for products liability resulting in personal injury. Damages can even be obtained if a product was misused if that wrong usage was foreseeable.
A defect can be one involving the product’s design (known as a design defect), one that occurs while the product was being manufactured, (manufacturing defect), or after it has been created (likely a marketing defect). The majority of products liability cases are considered strict liability cases. Strict liability lets a plaintiff obtain damages from an injury that was caused by a product without having to prove that the defendant engaged in wrongdoing. In states where strict liability is no longer allowed, a plaintiff may have to prove that the defendant was negligent. This includes showing there was a relationship between the plaintiff and the manufacturer, that the latter owed the former a duty of care, and this duty had been breached, resulting in injury to the plaintiff.
Retailers are liable when they sell defective goods, court reaffirms, The Sacramento Bee, November 16, 2011
DeGennaro v. Rally Manufacturing
More Blog Posts:
Swallowing High-Powered Magnets Can Be Deadly for Kids, Warns CPSC, Product Liability Law Blog, November 10, 2011
Products Liability: Fire Gel Fuel Used in Firepots, Fancy Torches, and Personal Fireplaces Posing a Serious Burn Injury Hazard to Consumers, Product Liability Law Blog, August 3, 2011
Turkey Fryers Can Increase Fire and Injury Risk During Thanksgiving, Product Liability Law Blog, November 22, 2010
The best way to ensure that you obtain all the recovery that you are owed is to work with an experienced New Jersey products liability law firm that knows how to prove strict liability or negligence.