Legal Memorandum: Strict Liability for Defective Products

Issue: According to the law in Pennsylvania, does a repairer of a product, in the business of supplying that product, face strict liability under Restatement of Torts (Second) 402A?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Strict liability; Defective product; Seller
Jurisdiction: Pennsylvania
Cited Cases: 573 N.E.2d 626; 512 N.Y.S.2d 704; 780 F.2d 1093; 495 A.2d 963; 707 N.E.2d 235; 372 A.2d 736; 337 A.2d 893; 587 F. Supp. 213; 432 N.W.2d 130; 645 A.2d 278; 993 F. Supp. 900; 21 F. Supp. 2d 510; 567 N.E.2d 1027; 467 A.2d 615; 547 N.Y.S.2d 699
Cited Statutes: Restatement of Torts (Second) § 402A
Date: 09/01/2000

           Under the Restatement of Torts (Second) § 402A, a “seller” who provides a defective product to the user is strictly liable to the user for injuries caused by the defect, if the seller is in the business of selling such products.  Restatement of Torts (Second) § 402A (1965).  The term “seller” has been broadly interpreted in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to include all suppliers of defective products. 

In Micciche v. Eastern Elevator Co., 645 A.2d 278, 280 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1994), the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the products liability claim against an elevator maintenance contractor. The focus of the court’s attention was the plaintiff’s failure to identify a defect in the elevator; the plaintiff argued that the entire elevator was defective.  Micciche, 645 A.2d at 280.  The court affirmed dismissal because the plaintiff failed to meet the requirement under § 402A of asserting that the product was in a defective condition.  Id. 

The same was true in the case of Cummins v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 495 A.2d 963, 969 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1985).  The Cummins court cites with approval the federal case of Klein v. Council of Chem. Ass’ns, 587 F. Supp. 213 (E.D. Pa.  1984).  In both cases, the courts cited the Restatement rule that liability attaches only when the plaintiff identifies the party responsible for “a sale or other commercial transfer of a product by the defendant.”  Cummins, 495 A.2d […]

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