Now, let’s talk about one final claim in strict product liability: Intentional Torts.
Personally, I think this claim is a bit sneaky in law exams, but I have seen it come up, so I want to mention it. You should consider the situation where a designer or a manufacturer or even a retailer or distributor may know of a defect and purposefully place the product on the market or within the stream of commerce intending to harm consumers. If you see this fact pattern, consider the intentional tort. Almost always it will be a battery claim, but it could be most any intentional tort. You shouldn’t treat this as a product liability matter because it is a “stand-alone” intentional tort.
Here’s an example. Designer is angry because he has created a number of products and no one will buy them. So designer creates a product that he believes the consumer will purchase, but designer knows that the way he has designed it, consumers will be injured.
For instance, the product could explode when used normally. Perhaps the product is advertised as an electronic, home security system that, when activated, will not allow the consumer to leave the home due to a severe electric shock and the system, once activated, cannot be easily disconnected. Maybe we have a battery if someone suffers a shock. Perhaps we have false imprisonment since those in the home cannot leave. If someone suffers severe emotional distress, then we may have a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
I think you get the point. Actually, now that I think about it, this sounds like a fun exam!
Just kidding, of course.
Professor Doug Holden
© 2010. Douglas S. Holden. All Rights Reserved.