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Products liability: Who has the upper hand

Getting a product to market requires more than a savvy marketing team and generous research and development budget. Safety is also imperative, since it will be used by the average consumer. Therefore, it is important that the product be designed well, that any risks are clearly marked on the packaging and that there are no errors made during the production process. When a product is determined faulty, the question rises over who has the upper hand.

This remains a hot topic between the Florida business community and the state’s Supreme Court.

According to CNBC, a Florida resident recently sued Samsung after his smartphone battery allegedly exploded in his pocket while he was out shopping in Palm Beach Gardens. The man reported burns on his leg and hand. This is not the first reported case of an overheated battery, and the electronics giant is now facing yet another claim for faulty products.

The charge comes just one year after the Florida Supreme Court officially reinstated strict liability for legal cases involving product defects. This means that manufacturers and sellers are held accountable for more than just negligent behavior. Any buyer can file a lawsuit against a company who sells a defective product. In legal terms, a defect can arise from a design flaw, a manufacturing error or even improper labeling. However, the plaintiff must still prove that the defect caused the injury and that the item was sold in an unreasonably dangerous condition.

Ultimately, Florida law no longer presumes the safety of products, and the prior risk/benefit analysis carries little weight in court. This means more leverage for consumers and more risk for producers.

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