Legal Memorandum: Burden in a Design Defect Case in MA

Issue: In Massachusetts, what is the plaintiff’s burden in a design defect case?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Design defect case; Burden; Failure to exercise reasonable care
Jurisdiction: Massachusetts
Cited Cases: 630 N.E.2d 291; 384 N.E.2d 1188
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 01/01/2000

In a design-defect case,”[t]he plaintiff has the burden . . . to show that the manufacturer failed to exercise reasonable care to eliminate avoidable or unforeseeable dangers to the user of the product.  Morrell v. Precise Eng’g, Inc., 36 Mass. App. Ct. 935, 936, 630 N.E.2d 291, 293 (1994) (citing Uloth v. City Tank Corp., 376 Mass. 974, 880-81, 384 N.E.2d 1188 (1978)).  There is no duty, however, to design a product that is risk-free or risk-proof; the test for whether a “product is defective is one of reasonableness rather than one of perfection.”  Id. at 936, 630 N.E.2d at 293.


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