Twenty-Five Years of Strict Product Liability Law: The Transformation and Present Meaning of Section 402A
28 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2016
Date Written: 1993
Twenty-five years ago, the American Law Institute had just published Section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts. As a consequence of this new and innovative rule, the theory of recovery in the area of defective products was expanded from a system based on principles of negligence and warranty to one that also included the doctrine of strict product liability. The promulgation of Section 402A marked the beginning of a growing revolution in the field of plaintiff-oriented litigation in which parties and courts frequently center their inquiry upon the defectiveness of the product and issues related thereto, rather than on the defendant or principles of the law of warrantee.
Unfortunately, since the advent of Section 402A, the American legal system has not perfected one uniform doctrine governing recovery. Much has transpired in the law of strict product liability in the last twenty-five years, and reflection upon this history shows that Section 402A does not, as written, represent the true state of the law today. The apparent intent of the drafters has been altered radically by the courts and legislatures, and events and individuals not mentioned in the original section are now able to find recourse under the law. One can barely imagine what additional changes will occur in the realm of product liability law as a new generation advances into the twenty-first century.
Keywords: Section 402A, Restatement (Second) of Torts, strict liability, products liability, strict product liability law, tort law, defective products, breach of implied warranty, Uniform Commercial Code, mismanufactured products, misdesigned products, mismarketed products
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation