Theories of Liability

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Theories of Liability

Several theories explain the legal responsibility of sellers and manufacturers for the harm caused to the bodies and properties of consumers by defective products. The warranty (express and implied) hypothesis and strict liability rule denote that producers and suppliers of faulty goods should bear the substantial burden because they are the primary initiators.

Express Warranty Theory

Express Warranty is any guarantee that is stated or written by the seller, manufacturer or distributor (Love, 2014). Such statements are on the labeling of the products, advertisements, and the instructional manuals. Consumers bring causes of action when there are defects in the products that are contravening to the express warranty (Trentacosta & Miller, 2014).

For example, say there is an advertisement on social media about a washing detergent that states that the soap does not bleach clothes. A consumer relies on the commercial information and goes ahead to buy the product for washing. Later on, the customer notices that there is bleaching on her clothes and she subsequently sues the company for defective warranty.

Implied Warranty Principle

Implied warranty is the automatic guarantee that the law applies to the products on the market. The manufacturer or seller of the merchandise does not express the security of the goods sold (Johnson, 2015). Furthermore, implied warranties form part of contracts (Sandborn, 2013). An assurance of merchantability states that the goods sold for a particular purpose by a dealer of such products should work successfully (Bergman, 2014).

For instance, when a person buys a radio system from a dealer of Sony products, he expects the device will function properly. However, if the audio speakers of the product are faulty, he will bring forward a claim against the company for the breach of implied warranty. The aggrieved shopper has the right to demand a replacement or repair of the device from the vendor.

Strict Liability Rule

Strict liability is a doctrine that indicates that the owners, manufacturers, or distributors of defective products are accountable for the harm that their goods inflict on consumers and third parties (Larkin, 2014). All that the claimant has to show under this responsibility principle is the existence of a flaw in the product. Therefore, the amount of care that a producer takes when developing the goods is irrelevant and it will not stop a claim under the strict accountability law (Sterk, 2012).

A good example is that of a manufacturing company that disposes its accumulating waste material into a river. Water bodies are open to the public; therefore, people are free to drink water from the streams or wash their clothes in them. If an individual becomes ill after drinking from the river because of bacterial infection, he/she will sue the organization for a contravening the strict liability theory.

Substantial Burden

There is a long chain of people who assist in the passing off the products from the manufacturers to the clients. When the goods have flaws and they cause injury to the consumers, the accountability of the producers is questioned. The inventors and sellers have the substantial burden for the breach of express and implied warranty. They have the moral responsibility in ensuring that their goods are safe for consumption and usage by the public. Consumers of commodities and services place their confidence and trust on the manufacturers and vendors (Ayres & Klass, 2012). It is important to have some liability directed to the government when untested goods and services harm the purchasers. The state has the responsibility of ensuring that all the materials at merchant shops are safe for the consumption by consumers (Baldwin & Rice, 2013).

For the violation of the strict liability regulation, the owners and manufacturers of malfunctioning items have to bear both the cost and moral responsibility. It is natural that people understand the repercussions of their actions (Br?ggemeier, 2015). Therefore, when a person makes a commodity that he/ she knows will negatively affect the lives of others, the legal system should go after them if there is harm to the public. However, the strictness of this rule raises complaints from the producers who pay significant damages to the plaintiffs using the liability claim. For that reason, those claimants, who are negligent in their actions, should not be allowed to benefit using the strict burden principle.

In as much as the legal responsibility of the harm caused by flawed goods is connected to several players in the industry, the degree of accountability is variable. The consumers of products bear the least liability, whereas the manufacturers bear serious blame when there is harm. Thus, the producers of dangerous products have to take the cost and moral accountability of their creations.


Ayres, I., & Klass, G. (2012). Studies in contract law (8th ed.). New York, NY: Foundation Press.

Baldwin, W. C., & Rice, C. B. (2013). Modern marine insurance coverages, current issues, and connections: Breach of warranty and misrepresentation-USA. Tulane Law Review, 87, 1049-1050.

Bergman, A. K. (2014). Right to recover for breach of implied warranties in sales of food. St. John's Law Review, 4(1), 7-8.

Br?ggemeier, G. (2015). Industrialization, risks and strict liability: The diverse paths of German and US law. Opinio Juris in Comparatione, 1(1), 121.

Johnson, J. A. (2015). Implied warranty of plans and specifications. Journal of Insurance and Indemnity Law, 8(1), 8-9.

Larkin, P. J. (2014). Strict liability offenses, incarceration, and the cruel and unusual punishment clause. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, 37(3), 1066-1121.

Love, R. L. (2014). Canadian product liability law - 2013 in review. Defense Counsel Journal, 81, 163-164.

Sandborn, P. (2013). Cost analysis of electronic systems. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Company.

Sterk, S. E. (2012). Strict liability and negligence in property theory. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 160, 2129-2131.

Trentacosta, J. R., & Miller, V. L. (2014, October). Disputes in the manufacturing supply chain. Michigan Bar Journal, 24-25.

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