Legal Memorandum: Manufacturing Defect Claims in NY

Issue: What are the elements of a manufacturing defect claim under New York law?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Manufacturing defect claim; Elements; Unreasonably unsafe
Jurisdiction: New York
Cited Cases: 86 A.D. 2d 373; 158 A.D. 2d 966
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 05/01/2000

A manufacturer of a product which is reasonably certain to be dangerous if defectively made owes a duty to use reasonable care in the manufacture of the product so that it will be reasonably safe for its normal uses.  A manufacturer will be liable to a remote consumer for negligence if (1) it failed to exercise reasonable care in manufacturing, inspecting, or testing the product for defects or (2) it exercised reasonable care in making, inspecting, and testing the product but learned of the defect before the product was placed on the market.  (See PJI 2:120.)  The maker of a component part or processor of materials incorporated into a product finished or assembled by another is liable for defects in the component part or materials due to its negligence.  Such manufacturer is not relieved of liability for its own negligence even though the assembler or finisher inspects and tests the component parts or materials used, or should have done so. (See PJI 2:125.)

A critical element of products liability/negligence claims is that the product must have been “unreasonably unsafe” when it left the hands of the manufacturer.  As the court in Forni v. Ferguson, 232 A.D. 2d 176 (1st Dept., 1996), observed, it is a matter of law that a product’s defect is related to its condition, not its intrinsic function.  The mere fact of an injury does not entitle the injured person to recovery; there must be something wrong with the product and, if nothing […]

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