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Aviation Aircraft and Strict Product Liability

You are director of risk management for Cessna, a company that designs, manufactures, and sells general aviation aircraft. In response to a request from a new member of CessnaĆ¢??s board of directors, draft a concise memorandum outlining the elements a plaintiff must prove in order to impose liability on Cessna under strict liability for accidents involving aircraft sold in the United States.

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In negligence cases, a victim must prove negligence on the part of the other party and that the negligence was the cause of the injury. So in a case of airplane crashes, in order to prevail in a law suit against the pilot operating the aircraft, the plaintiff must prove that he was negligent while flying the aircraft and it was his negligence that caused the airplane to crash.

However, in strict product liability cases, the plaintiff (the injured person) does not necessarily have to prove negligence by the manufacturer. That is what the essence of strict product liability is. All the attorney for the plaintiff will have to prove is that the defect in the product was the cause of the injury or losses.

The case history involving strict product liability evolved out of the courts' acknowledgment that it was very difficult for victims who have no technical knowledge about aviation to prove negligence. Therefore, the courts basically made it easier for victims to sue aircraft manufacturers like Cessna by focusing on the safety of the aircraft rather than Cessna's conduct. Fundamentally, strict product liability has placed Cessna, as well as other manufacturers in an disadvantage because of the lower standard of proof needed in strict product liability law suits.

General Elements of Strict Product Liability (FN1)

Product was defective
Product reached consumer in an unchanged state
Defect was caused the accident
Defect caused the damage
Manufacturer placed the product in the stream of commerce

Strict Product Liability scrutinizes the product, in this case the Cessna aircraft, to determine whether it is defective. There are three areas of inquiry in strict product liability that will be asked:

Was there a defect in the manufacture of the Cessna aircraft;
Was there a defect in the design of the ...

Solution Summary

This is a 7,243 document explaining strict product liability on an aviation aircraft like Cessna.