Product Liability – Aronberg & Aronberg


The terms “product recall” and “product liability” get tossed around a lot in today’s legal world, often in reference to a defective product and the damage that it can cause.  The area of product liability and subsequent recall is not as black and white as it may seem –  there is a large gray area filled with loopholes and different types of responsibilities.  In this blog, we’d like to let you know about a major recall that has made headlines recently and then delve into some background info on product liability law.

Recently, a company that distributes a well-known coffeemaker sold with the Black & Decker label has announced a voluntary recall of the product.  The recall was announced after 68 people reported that they had suffered burns and cuts due to the use of the product.  In addition to the 68 injured, an additional 1,300 users of the coffeemaker have reported that the coffee pot handle has broken during use of the product.  The recalling company, Applica Consumer Products, which is based in Florida, has been responsible for the distribution of the product that was sold nationwide from July of 2008 until just last month when the company decided that a recall was necessary.  Applica Consumer Products has said that owners of the coffeemaker should stop using it immediately and that they will receive a free replacement.

The offer of a free replacement is fairly standard when it comes to product recalls.  Products are recalled for a variety of reasons which typically fall under the umbrella of safety issues.  Essentially, products are supposed to meet the common expectations of a customer.  If a given product has an undisclosed defect or danger, the common expectation is not met, and thus the product is defective (and due for recall).  In the coffeemaker recall, the distributor was responsible for the recall; however, a product liability issue can mean that a variety of parties might be responsible.  Any participant along the line might be responsible.  Responsible parties might include the manufacturer of parts, the product manufacturer that assembles the product, the wholesale distributor of the product and the retail store at which the product was sold.

Product defects generally fall into one or more of the following categories: design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects.  A design defect is a mistake in the design of a product.  Design defects are typically the easiest to prove because the designers’s models can be used to prove that the design was faulty and thus the subsequent manufacturing was faulty.

Manufacturing defects occur when the manufacturing of the product does not match the intended design of the product.  A manufacturing defect might leave out a key safety feature included in the design of a product, thus rendering the product unsafe.

Finally, a marketing defect is what you call a mistake in the advertising of a product, where a product is shown to be safer than it truly is or when the advertisement fails to acknowledge certain safety hazards.

Product defects cause thousands of injuries every year in the United States.  If you or anyone you know has been injured by a defective product, please contact the Law Offices of Aronberg & Aronberg at 561-266-9191 or

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