Friday, July 6, 2012

11th Circuit affirms case on whether there is a duty to provide bilingual warnings for a product sold in latino community but leaves some questions unanswered

Back in January of last year we reported on a very interesting case out of the Southern District of Florida on the issue of whether there is a duty to provide warnings about products in languages other than English. The case is Farias v. Mr. Heater, Inc.  Go here for my initial comments and then here to follow a conversation between me and the Abnormal Use blog on the issue.

The Abnormal Use blog is now reporting that the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has affirmed the lower court's decision. The opinion can be found here.

What is interesting is that the court did not address the issue I raised back when we first discussed the question:  whether there ought to be a duty to provide warnings in specific languages depending on the marketing strategies for the product.  I argued that saying that it would not be frivolous to argue that a manufacturer that specifically targets an audience of consumers in a foreign language community within the US should have a duty to provide warnings in that community's language.  According to the report by the Abnormal Use blog, the Court of Appeals hinted at this concern but did not address it:  "... the Eleventh Circuit found no evidence that [the defendant] targeted the Hispanic community in its marketing.  As such, the Court did not find that the marketing efforts created a duty to provide bilingual warnings.  It would have been interesting to see how the Court’s analysis would have changed if [the defendant] did so market the heater."  Indeed!

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