For Industry Professionals, Managers, Trades & Suppliers
J. NORMAN STARK, ATTORNEY and REGISTERED ARCHITECT
JURIS DOCTOR, B. ARCHITECTURE, B.F.A.
17000 St. Clair Avenue . Cleveland, Ohio 44110-2535
Tel.: (216) 531-5310 . Fax: (888) 833-5860 . E-Mail: www.Normstark@aol.com
In Florida . 6500 Midnight Pass Rd. #105 . Sarasota, FL 34242 . (941) 349-2061.
Designers and Product Liability
Products liability, e.g., defects in either manufacturing or design of a product, or
failure to warn, have been the concern of legislators and the subject of many litigation
claims in the courts.
Claims for injuries and harm caused by products liability defects are based on the
theory of negligence. One basic general legal principle is: "A manufacturer of a
chattel made under a plan or design which makes it dangerous for the uses for which it
is manufactured is subject to liability to others whom he should expect to use the
chattel or to be endangered by its probable use for physical harm caused by his failure
to exercise reasonable care in the adoption of a safe plan or design." Restatement
(Second) of Torts § 398 (1965).
To succeed on a negligence claim, the plaintiff must satisfy the elements of duty,
breach, causation and injury / damages. Absent a duty of care, there can be no
liability for negligence. A person is not negligent toward another unless he owes the
other a duty to be careful.
Liability thereby attaches ".when a product's manufacturer or seller has failed to use
reasonable care to eliminate foreseeable dangers which subject a user to an unreasonable
risk of injury." A negligence finding "signifies that the product was unreasonably
dangerous because of its design or because of its failure to be accompanied by an
adequate warning, or both." See: COONS v. A.F. CHAPMAN CORP., 460 F.Supp.2d 209 (D.
Importantly, a claimant who sues a particular manufacturer for product liability
generally must be able to prove that the item, which it is claimed caused the injury,
can be traced to that specific manufacturer.
Negligence claims involving harmful, substances and gases, such as formaldehyde, are
often difficult to prove, because the evidence (as a vapor or gas) literally disappears,
and the harmful effects upon the claimant(s) also tend to improve or disappear. Here,
the immediate examination, diagnosis and treatment of any condition or harm alleged must
be made and documented carefully by experienced medical specialists, as evidence, for
presentation at trial. Without such expertise, claims for products liability may fail
for lack of competent, admissible, substantive evidence as credible proof of valid
Scoundrels are always sociable.
AUTHOR / EDITOR: J. NORMAN STARK is an Attorney-at-Law, a Registered Architect, (AIA, NCARB) Registered
Landscape Architect, Interior Designer, Planner and Senior Appraiser (ASA), admitted to practice law before the Bar of
Ohio, the US District Courts, Ohio and Illinois (Central Dist.), the US Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme
Court. He is a Mediator, Arbitrator and Litigator with experience in Business, Construction Law, and Public Works, and with
additional experience in Real Estate, Construction Attorney (Legal Project and Crisis Management), and as an Expert Witness
(Forensic Architect). His office is in Cleveland, Ohio.