Legal Memorandum: Jury Instructions of Foreseeable Misuse in HI

Issue: In Hawaii, 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; Foreseeability of a third person's negligence
Jurisdiction: Hawaii
Cited Cases: 256 Cal. Rptr. 57; 659 P.2d 734; 595 P.2d 275
Cited Statutes: Restatement (Second) of Torts § 477
Date: 01/01/2005

In Hawaii, "a product may be found defective in design if the plaintiff establishes that the product failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in an intended or reasonably foreseeable manner."  Masaki v. General Motors Corp. 780 P.2d 566, 579 (Hawaii 1989) (emphasis added).  Stated another way, manufacturers have a legal duty "to exercise reasonable care in the design and incorporation of safety features to protect against foreseeable dangers."  Ontai v. Straub Clinic & Hosp., Inc., 659 P.2d 734, 742 (Hawaii 1983) (emphasis added).  Thus, under the Hawaii law, a manufacturer has a duty to design for foreseeable misuse.

The best definition of foreseeable misuse that can be gleaned from Florida case law arises in the context of superseding cause, or the foreseeability of a third person’s negligent conduct in a products liability case.*FN1  See Collins v. Greenstein, 61 Haw. 26, 595 P.2d 275 (1979),.  Under this analysis, which applies Restatement (Second) of Torts § 477, an intervening act of negligence is not foreseeable if it is extraordinarily negligentId. at 285 n.14.


*FN1 California courts also discuss foreseeability in this context.  See Lehr, 256 Cal. Rptr. 57.


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