August 26, 2016

A Primer on Tort for Product Stewards

As product liability law evolves, limits to who could sue for damages have been dismantled, says Lynn Bergeson, managing partner at Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.. The universe of potential defendants is much larger now, so it’s incumbent on product stewards to understand the legal frameworks that govern their activities.

Bergeson provides that broad overview in “Legal Considerations Relating to Tort and Product Liability Law,” a chapter of Realizing the Full Business Value of Product Stewardship, a book recently published by the Product Stewardship Society.

The chapter touches on forms of liability that derive from allegations of injury resulting from claimed deficiencies in products. It begins with a summary of tort liability and concepts of negligence, then explains how they apply to product liability.

“It gives the uninitiated a general sense of how far reaching this form of liability can be,” says Bergeson. “Even if there’s no legal basis, that never precludes someone from filing a lawsuit, and even defending a lawsuit can be costly.”

In straightforward language, Bergeson explains how these legal concepts apply to product stewards and suggests ways that manufacturers can minimize their exposure to liability. “It’s not just complying with chemical reporting, which is a type of administrative liability,” she says “Failure in product stewardship gives rise to accusations of duty to warn or a duty to not be negligent. Professionals need to know what these concepts are to be well-educated stewards.


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