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Lawsuit!: Reducing the Risk of Product Liability for Manufacturers

Lawsuit!: Reducing the Risk of Product Liability for Manufacturers

Randall L. Goodden

ISBN: 978-0-470-41483-5

May 2008

376 pages


Addressing product liability concerns and laws both in the U.S. and internationally, this book helps manufacturers and engineers develop and implement proactive processes that can reduce liability concerns and potential lawsuits. It discusses preventive measures in the engineering, development, and manufacturing of products and explains the procedures and processes manufacturers must have in place to reduce the likelihood of liability as well as to provide the best defense in case of a lawsuit. This is a premier resource for engineers, manufacturers, risk managers, and others concerned about product liability.


1. An Introduction to Products Liability.

1.1 Courts and Jury Perceptions.

1.2 Judicial Hellholes.

1.3 Legal Reform.

1.4 Impact on Manufacturers.

1.5 Public Perception of Corporations.

1.6 Product Liability from the Insurance Perspective.

1.7 Insurance Companies Supporting PLP Programs.

1.8 Recommendations that Can Be Used on Products Liability Accounts Related to Design, Advertising, Instructions, and Product Recall.

1.9 Tougher Requirements from the CPSC.

1.10 #1 Verdict of 1999: $4.9 Billion Against GM for Gas-Tank Explosion—Live Defense Demonstration Backfires and Turns the Tide.

2. Product Liability Around the World.

2.1 United States.

2.2 Australia.

2.3 Canada.

2.4 China.

2.5 Europe: Part 1.

2.6 Europe: Part 2.

2.7 Japan.

3. Product Liability Law.

3.1 Restatement Third of Torts.

3.2 Commonly Used Terms and Definitions.

4. New Product Introduction: More Effective Design Reviews.

4.1 The Different Stages or Types of Design Reviews.

4.2 Creating the Design Review Team.

4.3 Making Design Reviews the Policy.

4.4 Developing the Design Review Procedure.

4.5 Minutes of the Design Review.

4.6 Policies and Procedures—Assets and Liabilities.

4.7 Engineering Change Control.

4.8 Traceability and Recall Preparedness.

4.9 Measuring the Effectiveness of the Design Review Team.

4.10 In Conclusion.

5. New Product Introduction: Product Safety Reviews Hazards Analysis, and Risk Assessment.

5.1 Creating the Product Safety Team.

5.2 Elements of the Hazards Analysis.

5.3 Design Review—a Viewpoint of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

5.4 Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA).

5.5 Cause-and-Effect Diagram.

5.6 MIL-STD 882.

5.7 Hazards Analysis Software.

6. Product Testing.

6.1 The Initial Design Process.

6.2 Conducting Product Tests.

6.3 Building a Testing Lab.

6.4 Complying with Domestic or International Standards.

6.5 Testing Products and Reacting to Test Results.

7. Warnings and Instructions.

7.1 The Legal Duty to Warn.

7.2 Presumption.

7.3 No Need to Warn Sophisticated Users.

7.4 The 2007 ANSI Z535.4 Standard for Product Safety Signs and Labels.

7.5 The New Standard: ANSI Z535.6.

8. Product Warranties.

8.1 Examples of Warranty, Warranty Disclaimer, and Exclusive Remedy.

8.2 Limitation of Liability.

8.3 A Businessperson’s Guide to Federal Warranty Law (

8.4 Offering Service Contracts.

8.5 Statement of Terms and Conditions.

8.6 Disclaimer or Limitation of Implied Warranties.

9. Product Marketing.

9.1 Deceptive Advertising v. Defects in Marketing.

10. Contracts, Purchase Orders, and Agreements.

10.1 Lack of Supplier Control.

10.2 Guilty by Association.

10.3 Purchase Orders.

10.4 Recall Considerations.

10.5 Distribution of the Purchase Order Terms and Conditions.

10.6 Customer Contracts.

10.7 The China Syndrome.

10.8 Restructuring Import Contracts When Importing Goods from China.

11. Records Retention and Dangerous Documents.

11.1 Records Retention Programs.

11.2 Hard Copy Storage.

11.3 Records can be Key for Defense.

11.4 Document Management and Recognizing “Dangerous Documents”.

11.5 Electronic Documents and Discovery.

11.6 The New e-Discovery Burden.

11.7 Employee Education.

12. The Administrative Team.

12.1 Selecting a Primary Driver.

12.2 Creating the Administrative Team.

12.3 Gaining the Necessary Knowledge.

12.4 Announcements to the Rest of the Organization.

12.5 Selecting an Outside Attorney.

12.6 Auditing the Operation.

12.7 Developing an Implementation Plan.

12.8 Administrative Team Meetings.

12.9 Executive Action—a View from the CPSC.

13. Post Sale Duties to Warn and Recalls.

13.1 Estimating the Economic Impact of Product Recalls.

13.2 “Made in China” Recalls of 2007.

13.3 Implementing a Recall.

13.4 Developing a Procedure.

13.5 The Tylenol Recall.

13.6 Government Agencies Involved with Certain Product Recalls.

13.7 EU Recall Planning Guide.

13.8 Some Final Thoughts on Recall Prevention.

14. The Quality System: Incorporating Safeguards into the Procedures.

14.1 The Legal Focus on Quality.

14.2 How Quality Can Become a Liability.

14.3 The PLP Problem with Quality Programs.

14.4 Evaluating the Quality Program.

14.5 Incorporating PSLP into the Quality Program.

14.6 Product Safety and Quality Guidelines by the CPSC.

14.7 Product Safety Policy.

14.8 Organization.

14.9 Training.

14.10 Technical Guidance.

15. Claims and Investigating Incidents.

15.1 How The Company Learns About Problems.

15.2 In-House Awareness Training.

15.3 Preparing for an Investigation.

15.4 Gathering the Facts.

15.5 Inspecting the Evidence.

15.6 Writing a Report.

16. Entering into Litigation.

16.1 Selecting the Defense Attorney.

16.2 Product Liability (Civil Case) Trial Procedure.

16.3 Appellate Procedure.

16.4 Discovery: Interrogatories.

16.5 Discovery: Requests for Documents.

16.6 Discovery: Depositions.

16.7 Preparing for Trial: Testifying Expert v. Non-Testifying Expert.

16.8 Pretrial Stage: Mandatory Settlement Conference.

16.9 Pretrial Defense Strategies: Motion in Limine.

16.10 Discovery: Defense Strategies.

16.11 Assessing Damages and Punitive Awards.

16.12 Product Liability Case Studies from Appellate Courts.


?The book is essential reading for anyone supplying goods to the North American market, especially in view of the high levels of general and punitive damages that have been awarded in US product safety cases.? ( Health & Safety at Work , October 2009)