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Defending against product liability claims: a look at some legal basics in Ohio, P.1

For Louisiana businesses which design, manufacture, or distribute consumer products, managing liabilities surrounding those products is an important, ongoing task. Businesses not only need to establish sound testing and quality control procedures, but effectively address product liability claims when they arise.

Louisiana law explicitly identifies several types of defects that can arise in connection with consumer products. One of these is manufacturing defects. A product is considered to be defectively manufactured if, at the time it left the control of the manufacturer, it materially—meaning, significantly with respect to the injuries alleged in the case—failed to conform to design specifications, formula or performance standards established by the manufacturer, or from units that did meet those standards. 

Manufacturers can be held liable for defects regardless of how much care they take to avoid them, which is a strict liability standard. For manufacturers targeted in product liability cases, though, it is important not only to carefully scrutinize the evidence of noncompliance with production standards, but also whether the defect in question was due to the manufacture or design of the product. It isn’t always easy to sort these matters out. Manufacturers also need to scrutinize whether any proven manufacturing defects were actually the cause of the plaintiff’s harm.

Another important point about manufacturer liability for product defects is that a defendant must prove not only that the manufacturer produced the type of product which caused harm to the plaintiff, but also that the manufacturer produced the specific product which caused harm to the plaintiff. Plaintiffs who cannot produce direct evidence of this are able to make use of circumstantial evidence. Whether circumstantial evidence is sufficient to meet the requisite standard of proof is an important issue. For manufacturers, it is important to carefully examine this evidence and highlight any weaknesses in defending against product liability claims.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic, and consider other types of product liability claims and how an experienced Louisiana product liability attorney can help advocate for businesses in the context of these claims.

Source: Ohio Revised Code, Sections 2307.71—2307.80

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