The Product Liability Debate
TheProduct Liability Debate
TheProduct Liability Debate
1.Should consumers bear more responsibility for product injuries orShould manufacturers bear more responsibility?
Productliability is an important aspect in the business world. Companies arestriving towards producing products that can place them ahead oftheir competitors as competition and advancement in technologicalinnovation continue to bolster. Nevertheless, the issue of productliability continues to haunt both the manufacturers and the consumersalike. Consumer protectionists argue that, companies bear liabilityfor the products they make, while companies on the other hand arguethat consumers in a free market have the liberty to choose what toconsume or not to consume. Besides, manufacturers always putprecautions or ingredients that they use in making their products andit’s therefore for the consumer to chose (Friedmanet al., 2015).Nevertheless, the manufacturer should bear more responsibility forthe harm that their products cause to consumers.
Manufacturershave all the artilleries including expertise, research, engineers andtools to carry out product safety. They are the ones that want to bein business in the first place and should strive to ensure that, notonly that they get business, but that their business is sustainable.They should invest heavily in product research, to ensure quality andsafety of their products before releasing them into the market. Assuch they should bear product liability.
Inaddition, manufacturers have a chance to pass all costs of productionand possible litigation to the consumer. They can ensure that theyhave factored possible product liability in their final price. Insimple terms, it is the manufacture that has the ability to pay theconsumer (Andre and Velasquez, 1991).
2.How does product liability impact business operations and decisions?
Productliability is with no doubt a factor in business operation anddecision making. As manufacturers, one must have to think about thepossible consequences of a lawsuit regarding harm of their product tothe consumer. As such, businesses are investing a lot in research andinnovation for quality and safety of their products. This in turninfluences the end price of a product which determines company’sprofitability.
Beforeventuring into a new product, manufacturers often have to think aboutthe possible risks that the product may cause to the consumer. Thisis so common with pharmaceutical industry. For example, as noted byAndre and Velasquez (1991), vaccines have been the hard hit due totheir sensitivity. As a result, only one company in the U.Smanufactures vaccines as the product is always a target for lawsuits.
Insurancecompanies also hike their charges for manufacturers in fear that,lawsuits may cost them a fortune. In addition, companies have toinvest heavily on legal aid to help them survive lawsuits regardingproduct liability.
Incase a company faces a lawsuit, it may end up reducing production,retrench its workforce of even withdraw from production altogether.Product liability lawsuits are very expensive and therefore havegreat influence on business operation and decision making.
3.Is the current product-liability legal system broken? Why, or whynot? If you believe it is broken, how would you fix it?
Thecurrent product liability legal system in the United States is verystrict. Although the manufacturer works hard to ensure that safetyand quality is their number one priority in their products, the legalsystem places the burden of liability heavily on the manufacturer. Insome situations the manufacturer may not have the power to preventthe product from causing harm or injury to the consumer. Take forexample the case of cigarette smoking, the manufacturer placesadequate warnings on the product but the consumer decides to use theproduct. The jury’s decision in 2014 that RJ Reynolds pays CynthiaRobinson $25 billion for her husband’s death as a result of lungcancer for smoking is evident of the broken laws. There must be abalance between consumer’s choice and manufacturers’ right to dobusiness.
Andre,C. and Velasquez, M. (1991). Who Should Pay? The Product LiabilityDebate. Issuesin Ethics, 4(1).Retrieved http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v4n1/pay.html(Accessed February 22, 2015).
Friedman,L. C., Cheyne, A., Givelber, D., Gottlieb, M. A., & Daynard, R.A. (2015). Tobacco Industry Use of Personal Responsibility Rhetoricin Public Relations and Litigation: Disguising Freedom to Blame asFreedom of Choice. Americanjournal of public health,105(2),250-260.