1. Katherine’s lawyer described a previous case in which an individual was injured because a product exploded. Two years earlier, a woman walking down a row of hair care products in a supermarket had been injured when three cans of hair spray spontaneously exploded. She lost her sight because of the explosion, and a jury awarded her $2.2 million in damages. Katherine’s lawyer argued that because the previous woman had been compensated, Katherine should be awarded $2 million in damages for her injuries. Do you think the earlier case is similar enough to Katherine’s case for Katherine to recover damages? Why?
Clue: How are the cases similar and different? How does the fact that Katherine purchased the product affect your thinking about the earlier case?
2. The manufacturer argued that because it places a warning on the hair spray cans, it is free from responsibility for injury. The can states, “Warning: Flammable. Contents under pressure.” The jury, however, ruled in favor of Katherine.What ethical norm seems to have shaped the jury’s thought?
Clue: Study the list of ethical norms in Chapter 1. The manufacturer argued that it should not have to assume responsibility because the can has a warning. What ethical norm is consistent with offering greater protection for the consumer?
3. What additional information about this case would make you more willing to state your own opinion about the situation?
Clue: What information about the product would change your thinking about the responsibility of the manufacturer? For example, suppose that Katherine discovered that an identical accident had occurred with the same brand of hair spray. How might knowing the date that the similar accident occurred influence your thinking about Katherine’s case?