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Defending against product liability claims: a look at some legal basics in Ohio, P.4

This is the fourth in a series of posts looking at some of the basic features of Ohio law concerning liability for product defects. So far, we’ve looked at several types of product defects, including manufacturing and design defects, as well as failure to provide adequate warnings and instructions. As we’ve noted, each of these categories of product defects involves specific rules governing when, and to what extent, manufacturers and designers are liable for defects.

In addition to the these types of product defects, products may also be found defective if they fail to conform to representations made by the manufacturer at the time they leave the manufacturer’s control. Liability for failure to conform to representations is strict, meaning the manufacturer doesn’t need to have been negligent in making false representations to be determined at fault. 

Regardless of the type of product defect at issue in the case, it is important to bring into play all potentially liable parties. This means not only manufacturers and designers of the product, but also any supplier associated with the product. This includes any party that sells, distributes, leases, prepares, labels, blends, packages or participates in any other way in putting a product into the “stream of commerce,” or who installs, repairs or maintains any aspect of a product which causes harm to a consumer.

In order to bring a claim against a supplier, a consumer must prove either than the supplier was negligent in some way that was a sufficient cause of harm to the consumer, or that the product—regardless of whether the supplier was negligent—did not conform to a representation made by the supplier when it left the supplier’s control, resulting in harm to the consumer.

A critical aspect of any product liability claim, of course, is building a strong case for damages. In a future post, we’ll say more about this aspect of product liability litigation. 

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