Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 2000

Keywords

Manufacturers' liability, Enterprise liability, Strict enterprise liability, Fault-based liability

Disciplines

Consumer Protection Law | Marketing Law | Products Liability | Psychology and Psychiatry | Torts

Abstract

Products liability law has witnessed a long debate over whether manufacturers should be held strictly liable for the injuries that products cause. Recently, some have argued that psychological research on human judgment supports adopting a regime of strict enterprise liability for injuries caused by product design. These new proponents of enterprise liability argue that the current system, in which manufacturer liability for product design turns on the manufacturer's negligence, allows manufacturers to induce consumers into undertaking inefficiently dangerous levels or types of consumption. In this paper we argue that the new proponents of enterprise liability have: (1) not provided any more than anecdotal evidence for their thesis; (2) failed to account for the mechanisms the law already has available to counter manufacturer manipulation of consumers; and (3) made no effort to address the well-known problems enterprise liability creates. Furthermore, even on its own terms, the new arguments for enterprise liability fail to consider the tendency of some manufacturers to exacerbate the risks that some products pose - a tendency that enterprise liability would exacerbate. In short, the insights gleaned from psychological research on human judgment do not support adopting a system of strict enterprise liability for products.

Publication Citation

Published in: Roger Williams University Law Review, vol. 6, no. 1 (Fall 2000).