Manufacturers owe a certain responsibility to consumers. Consumers should be able to reasonably use.

Manufacturers owe a certain responsibility to consumers. Consumers should be able to reasonably use a product without its causing harm to them or others. After you read the following scenario, answer the critical thinking questions that will enhance your thinking about product liability law. Katherine purchased a can of hair spray from her local drugstore.When she removed the cap from the hair spray can, the can exploded in her hands. She suffered third-degree burns on her hands and face and was unable to work for three months. Katherine sued the hair spray manufacturer after she discovered that another woman had suffered an identical accident when using the same brand of hair spray. The jury awarded Katherine $750,000 in compensatory damages.
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?

 

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