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Publication Date



Defective product design, Manufacturers' liability, Process defense, Risk-utility analysis, Reasonable alternative design, RAD


Consumer Protection Law | Torts


Professor Henderson, addressing the suggestion that the focus in product design liability cases should be on the process by which design decisions are made rather than on the reasonableness of a particular design, analyzes a proposal that manufacturers be able to present evidence of good process as a defense. Although he applauds the attempt to resolve the difficulties of deciding product design cases, he questions the soundness of the process approach. Specifically, he argues that a process defense would be unworkable because judges would be unable to tell good process from bad, and that the proposal does not address polycentricity--the real source of difficulty in product design cases. Finally, he is unconvinced that a process defense will provide incentives that would lead to improved product designs.


This article predates the author's affiliation with Cornell Law School.

Publication Citation

Published in: New York University Law Review, vol. 56, no. 4 (October 1981).