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Defective product case is supported by strict liability theory

An article is defective it is not fit for the ordinary purposes for which the product is normally used. It can be considered a defective product also if it has a tendency to cause personal injury even if used in the normally intended manner and function. In West Virginia and other states, a claimant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous to end users.

If a personal injury results to a user of the defective product, a claim for compensation for damages may be made against the manufacturer. In general, it doesn't matter if the manufacturer used all due care in getting the product to market where it is established that is defective. The law of strict liability for defective products applies in every state.

That doctrine says that the maker is strictly liable for the injuries caused by a defective product regardless of whether there was negligence. It also says that contributory negligence of the user is not a defense, as long as the user was using it for the purposes normally intended. Strict liability is thus based on policy concerns that shift the economic burdens of a bad product to the manufacturer and away from the consumer.

The manufacturer can prevail by showing that it provided plain warnings of the defect. The consumer is responsible for not heeding the published warnings on the product or its instructional documentation. In one case in another state, an elderly woman sued the manufacturer of a walker, claiming it was defective and essentially fell apart, causing her to fall. She claims that the manufacturer of the walker put it on the market with defective handles and without making a proper inspection.

The lawsuit also claims a failure to warn of the defects. The injured woman asks for compensatory damages for pain and suffering, physical and psychological injuries and rehabilitative expenses. Although the claimant filed this defective product case in a state court, the defendant exercised its procedural rights to remove the case to a federal court, where it is now being processed. The principles and procedures governing the matter would be generally the same here in West Virginia as in other states.

Source: The Louisiana Record, 87-year-old woman claims walker is defective, Michelle Keahey New, Dec. 3, 2013

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