Court declines to broaden the scope of bystander liability in strict product liability action.
The plaintiff in this strict liability action was a truck driver who was injured by a product while preparing it for delivery to the ultimate buyer. He brought suit against the product’s manufacturer, alleging it did not meet consumer expectations, failed the risk utility test and did not contain adequate warnings. The manufacturer countered that the plaintiff could not recover under strict liability because he was not the “ultimate user or consumer” of the product, as required by the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 402A. In granting the manufacturer’s motion to dismiss, the court concluded that the plaintiff was not a “user or consumer” because “[h]e was not ‘utilizing’ the product ‘for the purpose of doing work upon it,’ and his employer . . . was not the ‘ultimate buyer’ of the product.” The court further noted that, although the Pennsylvania Superior Court and federal district courts have at times allowed bystanders to recover under strict liability claims, none of those cases allowed for recovery “by persons who load or unload items during the course of their transportation to consumers.” In declining to broaden the scope of recovery, the court explained that “strict liability is designed to protect users and consumers (and perhaps those who might be in close proximity to them), not the people who help bring a product to market.”
Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2017. Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2017 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.