Manufacturers’ Products Liability by Joe Walters


This article first appeared in The Journal Record - August 20, 2009

A person required to pay damages to another must owe a legal duty to the injured person. This duty can be imposed by the federal or state constitution, federal or state statutes passed by the U.S. Congress or a state legislature, or the “common law”. When an appeals court establishes a legal principle, this is known as the “common law” and is effective until it is overturned by a later decision or in some cases by Congress or the legislature.

Manufacturers’ products liability is part of the common law. In 1974, the Oklahoma Supreme Court established the theory of manufacturers’ products liability in the case of Kirkland v. General Motors. Manufacturers’ products liability is different than other forms of liability because it is “strict liability,” meaning the defendant can be found liable without fault. Thus, a manufacturer can be liable without bad intent, or if it followed existing standards for its product. So, old products which do not have modern safety devices can sometimes be the subject of a lawsuit. The statute of limitations, or time within which a case must be filed, runs from the date of personal injury or damage to property, not from the time the product is sold.

Article authored by McAfee & Taft attorney: Joe Walters.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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