Products Liability/Defective Design Strict Liability Claims
The two most commonly asserted causes of action in product defect cases in Maryland are strict liability and negligence. In Phipps v. General Motors, the Maryland Court of Appeals adopted Section 402A of the Second Restatement of Torts:
Special Liability of Seller of Product for Physical Harm to User or Consumer
- One who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm thereby caused to the ultimate user or consumer, or to his property, if
- the seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product, and
- it is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without substantial change in the condition in which it is sold.
- The rule stated in Subsection (1) applies although
- the seller has exercised all possible care in the preparation and sale of his product, and
- the user or consumer has not bought the product from or entered into any contractual relation with the seller.
Accordingly, the elements of a strict liability claim require a product that: (1) is in a defective condition, (2) was unreasonably dangerous, (3) contains a defect that causes injury, and (4) was expected to reach and did reach the end user without substantial change in its condition.
Strict liability and product defect are related concepts that are pled together. The key difference in Maryland, and in most states, is that in an action founded on strict liability in tort, as opposed to a traditional personal injury product liability claim founded on negligence, the plaintiff does not prove any specific act of negligence on the part of the seller. In other words, the question is not what the manufacturer did, but rather, what are the condition and risks associated with the product.
Really then, strict liability’s most meaningful contribution to product defect lawyers in Maryland is that it makes bringing the claim much easier from an evidentiary standpoint because you don’t have to provide exactly why the product went wrong, just that it went wrong. But despite the use of the term “strict liability,” strict liability is not imposed on the seller of defective products. For example, the fact that a drug causes an injury does not make the manufacturer liable. Maryland product liability lawyers making strict liability claims must still – at least to some degree – prove unreasonable conduct on the part of the product’s manufacturer.
We handle both product defect cases for individual and class action lawsuits. If you want to discuss your case with one of our attorneys or get information on a particular class action lawsuit pending, call us at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free Internet consultation.
- Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment that strict liability applies to the case
- How to plead strict liability in Maryland (sample complaint)
- In 2014, Maryland passed a law eliminating strict liability against pit bulls in dog bite cases
- Unrelated by interesting: Maryland Court of Appeals ruling in 2017 that strict liability allows the state to take a bar owners’ liquor license for illicit sexual activity in their establishment even if they did not know it was occurring.