Elements for a Claim of Strict Product Liability

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In Nevada, the elements for a claim strict product liability are:

  1. That the product was defective;
  2. That the defect existed when the product left the defendant’s possession;
  3. That the product was used in a manner which was reasonably foreseeable by the defendant; and
  4. That the defect was a cause of the damage or injury to the plaintiff.

NEVADA JURY INSTRUCTIONS 7.02; BAJI 9.00.

Nevada recognizes the doctrine of strict tort liability for defective products.  Valentine v. Pioneer Chlor Alkali, 109 Nev. 1107, 864 P.2d 295, 297 (1993). By this system, the courts seek to place responsibility for injuries caused by defective products wherever it will most effectively reduce the hazards to life and health inherent in the marketing of defective products. Allison v.Merck and Co., Inc., 110 Nev. 762, 878 P.2d 948, 952 (1994).   Although manufacturers are not insurers of their products, where an injury is caused by a defective product, responsibility is placed upon the manufacturer and distributor of that product.

In order to bring a successful products liability suit in Nevada, a plaintiff must prove: (1) that the product had a defect which rendered it unreasonably dangerous; (2) the defect existed at the time the product left the manufacturer; and (3) the defect caused the plaintiff’s injury.  Fyssakis v. Knight Equip. Corp.,  108 Nev. 212, 826 P.2d 570, 571 (1992).  A manufacturer or distributor is of a product is strictly liable for injuries resulting from a defect in the product that was present when it left its hands.  Ginnis v. Mappes Hotel Corp., 86 Nev. 408, 413, 470 P.2d 135, 138 (1970).

Under Nevada law, a product that does not include a warning that adequately communicates the dangers that may result from its use or foreseeable misuse, the product is defective.  Fyssakis, 826 P.2d at 572. Further, evidence that the product lacked adequate safety features or that a safe alternative design was feasible at the time of manufacture will support a strict liability claim. On the other hand, a product which bears suitable and adequate warnings concerning the safe manner in which the product is to be used, and which is safe to use if the warning is followed, is not in defective condition.  Crown Controls Corp v. Corella, 98 Nev. 35, 37, 639 P.2d 555, 557 (1982).

Purely economic losses usually are not recoverable under tort theories of negligence and strict liability.  Nat’l Union Fire Ins.  v.  Pratt & Whitney,  107 Nev. 538, 815 P.2d 601 (1991).

 

See elements for other claims at the Nevada Law Library

About the Author

Jay Young is a Las Vegas, Nevada attorney. His practice focuses on business law, business litigation, and acting as an Arbitrator and Mediator. Peers have named him an AV-Rated Lawyer, Best Lawyers, a Top 100 Super Lawyers in the Mountain States multiple years, and to the Legal Elite and Top Lawyers lists for many years. Mr. Young has been appointed a part time Judge, a Special Master to the Clark County, Nevada Business Court, as an arbitrator by the Nevada Supreme Court. He has been appointed as an arbitrator or mediator of well over 250 legal disputes from business disputes to personal injury matters. He has been named Best Lawyers for Arbitration. Mr. Young is a respected author of ten books, including A Litigator’s Guide to Federal Evidentiary Objections, A Litigator’s Guide to the Federal Rules of Evidence, and the Federal Court Civil Litigation Checklist.
Mr. Young can be reached at 702.667.4868 or at jay@h2law.com.