Legal Memorandum: Jury Instructions of Foreseeable Misuse in FL

Issue: In Florida, what is the standard definition of foreseeable misuse for use in Jury Instructions?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Foreseeable misuse; Standard definition; Manufacturer's duty to warn regarding misuse
Jurisdiction: Florida
Cited Cases: 395 So.2d 1226; 738 F. Supp. 481; 434 So. 2d 988
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 01/01/2005

Florida law on manufacturer’s duty does not specifically refer to foreseeable misuse.  Generally a manufacturer "has ‘a duty to take reasonable precautions to avoid reasonably foreseeable injuries to those who might use the commodity.’"  Johns-Manville Corp. v. Janssens, 463 So.2d 242, 248 (Fla. Dist. Ct. All. 1984) (quoting Tampa Drug Co. v. Wait, 103 So.2d 603, 607 (Fla. 1958)).  A manufacturer is under no duty to make a fail-safe or accident-proof product, as long as the product poses not unreasonable dangers for consumer use.  Mendez v. Honda Motor Co., 738 F. Supp. 481, 484 (S.D. Fla. 1990).  Failure to design a product so that it cannot be misused is not a design defect. Id. at 484.  Interestingly, whereas Florida case law does not explicitly enunciate a duty to design for foreseeable misuse,*FN1 the Husky Industries case does quote Dean Prosser, The Law of Torts at 644-45 (4th ed. 1978) with regard to such a duty:  "There is no doubt whatever that the manufacturer is under a duty to use reasonable care to design a product that is reasonably safe for its intended use and for other users which are, foreseeably probable."  Husky Indus., Inc. v. Black, 434 So. 2d 988, 991 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1983).  This reference, although not expounded upon, could support the existence of a duty under Florida law to design for foreseeable misuse.

Because Florida law does not enunciate a foreseeable-misuse […]

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