Manufacturers and sellers of defective products may be liable for any injuries caused by that defect, but only when the injured people used the product in a foreseeable way. In fact, saying the plaintiff misused the product is a viable defense to many products liability lawsuits in Ohio.
It is one of the keys bases of a products liability suit that the product in question is defective for its intended use. An otherwise safe and normal product is not defective simply because someone used or consumed it in an abnormal way.
Misuse can be relative, and in many states, the law allows for penalties against a products liability defendant to be reduced to the extent that another party’s misuse was responsible for the injury or death. This makes it somewhat similar to contributory negligence. However, in most states misuse is a complete bar to recovery.
As with most products liability cases, proving misuse can be complex and technical. As we have said before, other common defenses include that the plaintiff substantially altered the product after it left the defendant’s control, or that the plaintiff cannot identify the supplier of the product that allegedly caused the injury.
Getting sued for a defective product can be scary, because it can be very expensive and force major changes to the nature of your products. It is important to seek legal representation as soon as your business learns it is being sued for products liability, to ensure that you can mount a vigorous defense, or negotiate a fair settlement.
Source: 65 A.L.R.4th 263 (Originally published in 1988)