Product Safety, Buybacks and the Post-Sale Duty to Warn
Kathryn E. Spier
Harvard University - Law School - Faculty; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
September 1, 2009
Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 597
A manufacturer learns a product’s risks after it has been sold and distributed to consumers. When held strictly liable for product-related injuries, the manufacturer offers to repurchase the product when the risk exceeds a threshold. Consumers accept the offer when their private valuations of consumption are smaller than the buyback price. The manufacturer’s private incentives to stage a buyback are insufficient, the buyback price offered is too low, and the continued product usage by consumers is excessive. The ability of the manufacturer to repurchase the product ex post reduces the incentive to design safer products ex ante. A negligence rule, the “post-sale duty to warn,” implements the social welfare benchmark.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Date posted: November 9, 2007 ; Last revised: September 6, 2009