From Cigarettes to Alcohol: The Next Step in Hedonic Product Liability?
Robert F. Cochran Jr.
Pepperdine University School of Law
Pepperdine Law Review, Vol. 27, No. 4, 2000
While generally courts seem to have stopped and in many cases reversed the expansion of product liability, cigarette litigation is one of the few areas where there are signs of expanding tort liability. Cochran looks at the similarities between cigarettes and alcohol in considering whether alcohol manufacturers may be the next target of product liability lawsuits. The similarities between cigarettes and alcohol are numerous. Both are hedonic products, or products whose primary purpose is to provide pleasure. They are also both dangerous to users and bystanders, and society as a whole. Currently, many of the costs created by hedonic products are borne by society as a whole. By courts imposing liability on these products, the risk would be distributed, costs internalized, and corrective justice served. Cochran shows that there is an emerging right of bystanders to recover from manufacturers when injured by a dangerous hedonic product such as tobacco or alcohol. He argues that manufacturers and consumers of these products should not benefit from the products at the expense of injured bystanders. Imposing liability would spread the risk of bystander injury to all users of the product.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: product liability, tobacco, alcohol, hedonic
JEL Classification: K13
Date posted: November 1, 2008