Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Florida High Court to Decide if Smokers Must Find Safer Cigarette for Damages
The Florida Supreme Court is considering whether "plaintiffs who sue companies over design defects in inherently dangerous products such as cigarettes must find a safer design option to prove liability." The question of whether to require a plaintiff to show a "reasonable alternative design" was a big issue during the process of adopting the Restatement Third. Most states at the time did not require it. The Restatement eventually adopted a definition of design defect that depends on the existence of an alternative. Requiring proof of an alternative design makes it much more difficult for plaintiffs to prove their case, a fact that reportedly worries Chief Justice Peggy Quince. According to a story in Law.com, she expressed concern that a requirement for finding an alternative safe option would put consumers in "a very, very difficult position." "How in the world is the consumer going to come up with an alternative design?" Quince asked. She said it would require plaintiffs to hire engineers to find safer ways to design alternatives to products that injured them. Full story available here.