Public Justice has joined a critically important New York case that could have a dramatic impact on consumer safety. The issue in the case (Wallace v. York International) is whether a product manufacturer or seller has a duty to warn about all of the dangers of its product, including the dangers of component parts that it knows will be installed on its product by others. The Defendant claims it has no duty to warn about dangerous component parts that it knows will be installed on its products. Public Justice in an amici brief says that such a duty does – and must – exist.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a man who died from exposure to asbestos that was installed in an air conditioning unit manufactured by York International. A $5 million verdict was returned in his case on the ground that York should have foreseen that its air conditioning units were being used, or would be used, with the ultra hazardous, asbestos-containing insulation pervasively used at the time. On appeal, York is contending that it had no duty to warn about any dangerous components installed on its product by third parties, regardless of whether the use of the hazardous component was foreseeable.
Under existing law in most states, manufacturers have a duty to warn about dangerous components that it knows could be installed on its products by third parties. If York has its way, product manufacturers would be able to avoid liability for failing to warn of the full dangers of their products – the dangers posed by components it knows will be installed by others. Not only would such a ruling have a terrible effect on victims’ rights in New York State, but it could potentially spread to other states that recognize a duty to warn under such circumstances.
The amici brief, which was filed on December 2, 2009, on behalf of Public Justice, the American Association for Justice, and the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, was principally authored by Jeffrey R. White of the Center for Constitutional Litigation, with input from Public Justice Staff Attorney Leslie Brueckner.
Source: Public Justice Foundation
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