SELLERS OF DEFECTIVE PRODUCT ARE ALSO SUBJECT TO LIAIBLITY

Seller's of Defective Products are also subject to liability when an injury results from a defect. Clients and prospective clients alike often ask who they may sue in the event they are injured by a defective product.  The following discussion involves whether or not the Seller of a defective product may ultimately bare responsibility.

As with most states, product defect law is governed by relatively recent state legislation, as well as ever changing precedence.  In South Carolina, when an individual is injured by a defective product they are not limited to suing just the manufacturer. While the facts and circumstances differ in every case, generally it may be said that a seller of a defective product may be liable to the injured end-user where the below statutory guide is satisfied.  South Carolina Code Ann § 15-73-10 governs the liability of a seller of a defective product.  

SELLERS OF DEFECTIVE PRODUCTS

SECTION 15-73-10. Liability of seller for defective product.

(1) One who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm caused to the ultimate user or consumer, or to his property, if

(a) The seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product, and (b) It is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without substantial change in the condition in which it is sold.

(2) The rule stated in subsection (1) shall apply although

(a) The seller has exercised all possible care in the preparation and sale of his product, and (b) The user or consumer has not bought the product from or entered into any contractual relation with the seller.

A key feature of this legislation cuts of liability of the seller.  Under SC Code § 15-73-20, recovery is barred, “[I]f the user or consumer discovers the defect and is aware of the danger, and nevertheless proceeds unreasonably to make use of the product and is injured by it, he is barred from recovery.  

The Court in Anderson v. Green Bull, Inc. elaborates on this bar while evaluating a failure to warn claim in a 1996 decision by saying "[A] product cannot be deemed either defective or unreasonably dangerous if a danger associated with the product is one that the product's users generally recognize."  This case was quoted in a South Carolina Supreme Court opinion, which was filed yesterday, 1/3/2014.  See, Holland v. Morbark, Opinion Number 5186.

Should you have any questions or comments regarding liability of a seller in a product defect claim you are welcome to contact us at your convenience. 

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