Good news for people who are concerned about drug companies and whether the drugs they make are safe: The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports that The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court recently ruled that claims against pharmaceutical companies for defective design of drugs can move forward. In a 4-2 vote, the court held that valid claims of liability are not solely limited to claims of manufacturing defects but also can include claims that a company was negligent in testing, marketing, and designing a drug as well.
Good News for Consumers
This decision is a win for consumers. Current law holds that a manufacturer or seller has liability for damage caused by a product when it decides to sell that product. This damage can happen either due to a defect in the product’s manufacturing or a defect in the product’s design.
Defective By Design?
If you are thinking of pursuing a harmful product claim, you should understand what the law requires you to prove. You as the plaintiff must prove that the product was defective, and “defective” does not mean “completely risk free.” If you are claiming that the product is defective because of a flaw in its design – in other words, that it was not simply a manufacturing defect – then you also have the burden of proving that a reasonable alternative design is possible.
Passing the Test: How to Know if Your Client Has a Case
For defective-design cases, your client’s case will need to meet one of two different tests to make a valid claim. One test asks whether the product meets the safety expectations of the ordinary consumer. The second test asks whether the benefits of the product’s design outweigh the inherent risk in its design. The first test is more commonly used because all the plaintiff needs to prove is that the product did not perform safely as expected. The second test gets into a weighing of risks and benefits that many plaintiff’s attorneys would rather avoid.
But There are Exceptions to Manufacturer Liability…
Under the law, you cannot pursue a defective product claim for common consumer products that are inherently and widely known to be unsafe.
To have the best chance of success with a product claim, you should make sure you are up-to-date with the law and how you must successfully prove the manufacturer holds liability and win your case.
Staying Updated on Liability, Negligence, and Causes of Action
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