Under the law of product liability, which applies in all states including
New York, a manufacturer or distributor of a product that is defective
and unreasonably dangerous to the intended user, is strictly liable in
tort to the injured user for personal injuries. That is the rule of strict
liability that generally is applied in most product liability cases for
damages suffered from a defective product. An injured plaintiff can also
allege negligence and breach of warranty theories in such suits, but as
a general proposition, strict liability is usually easier to prove and
provides a stronger platform from which a settlement can be extracted.
Recently, a product liability case in another state was settled for an
undisclosed sum. The complaint had asked for $7.4 million, alleging the
plaintiff’s paralysis and loss of use of both legs. He alleged that
he fell from a zip line device that he was testing for his grandchildren.
A zip line allows the rider to be suspended from a wheeled trolley that
travels on a cable and is strung between two trees.
The complaint against the Oregon company alleged that the 71-year-old plaintiff
fell when an inch-wide rope that held a wooden seat together came undone,
causing him to fall 13 feet to the ground and suffer a crushed spine.
When the case was filed, the company, Zip Line Gear, responded with a
slew of defenses, mainly accusing the man of being negligent himself and
in knowing the dangers of the product. The answer also alleged that the
to the $375 purchase price.
It’s highly unlikely that the waiver and limitation of liability
would hold up in a New York court or any other state court. Such limitations
on liability are generally held to be against public policy and unenforceable.
Under the strict liability principles applying to a product liability
case, the plaintiff must prove mainly that the product was defective for
its intended use and that the defect caused the injury to the consumer user.