Rather than focus on the behavior of the manufacturer (as in negligence), strict liability claims focus on the product itself. Under strict liability, the manufacturer is liable if the product is defective, even if the manufacturer was not negligent in making that product defective.
The difficulty with negligence is that it still requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant's conduct fell below the relevant standard of care. However, if an entire industry tacitly settles on a somewhat careless standard of conduct (that is, as analyzed from the perspective of a layperson), then the plaintiff may not be able to
recover even though he or she is severely injured, because although the defendant's conduct caused his or her injuries, such conduct was not negligent in the legal sense (if everyone within the trade would inevitably testify that the defendant's conduct conformed to that of a reasonable tradeperson in such circumstances). As a practical matter, with the increasing complexity of products, injuries, and medical care (which made many formerly fatal injuries survivable), it is quite a difficult and expensive task to find and retain good expert witnesses who can establish the standard of care, breach, and causation.
Therefore, in the 1940s and 1950s, many American courts departed from the MacPherson standard and decided that it was too harsh to require seriously injured consumer plaintiffs to prove negligence claims against manufacturers or retailers. To avoid having to deny such plaintiffs any relief, these courts began to look for facts in their cases which they could characterize as an express or implied warranty from the manufacturer to the consumer. The res ipsa loquitur doctrine was also stretched to reduce the plaintiff's burden of proof. Over time, the resulting legal fictions became increasingly strained.
Of the various U.S. states, California was the first to throw away the fiction of a warranty and to boldly assert the doctrine of strict liability in tort for defective products, in 1963 (under the guidance of then-Associate Justice Roger J. Traynor).” (Wikipedia)
The author spent most of his career as a design engineer. He has designed portions of space satellites, hand tools, and medical devices. As an expert witness he demonstrated the design defects that killed the user of a quality electric drill, shocked a woman using an electric foot bath, and showed in his book the real cause of the Challenger disaster.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.