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Florida Supreme Court Rules: Product Liability for Manufacturers

The Florida Supreme Court recently reinstated a multi-million-dollar verdict handed down by a jury in an asbestos case in 2012. The case sets several important precedents for product liability law in Florida and provides important guidance on who can be held liable in such cases moving forward.

Product liability cases have long been an important avenue for victims of faulty product to recover for their damages. Too often we see that large corporations or other entities manufacture, distribute, market, and sell a defective product to the public that causes a great deal of harm. When that happens, victims have a right to recover from the responsible parties for their damages, pain, and suffering.

What Happened in This Case

This case dates back to the 1960s when the use of asbestos was common across a number of industries. The victim in this case was a construction worker who inhaled asbestos from dust on construction sites where he worked. As a result of inhaling these compounds, the man contracted asbestosis and mesothelioma.

At the time when the victim in this case ingested the dust from these compounds, a major corporation mined, developed, and manufactured a compound using asbestos. The same corporation then marketed and sold this compound to different corporations who put them in products such as drywall, spray compounds, and other products that were commonly used in the construction industry.

Soon after these products became popular and useful, it was discovered that they posed a significant threat to the health of workers who came into contact with them. The risks of inhaling asbestos include contracting asbestosis and mesothelioma (a type of cancer). Since that discovery, lawsuits have been filed, fought, and won to make the companies responsible for the production and use of these products liable.

Legal Issues in This Case

After the victim in this case won his verdict at trial, the company appealed and won at the Florida Third District Court of Appeals. In the opinion, the Third District ruled that the manufacturer could not be held liable under a design defect claim because of the design defect rule of product liability. The plaintiff did not show that the defendant could have designed a safer product and did not adequately warn of the dangers of the products containing asbestos.

The Florida Supreme Court disagreed with the lower court’s ruling. The High Court reinstated the multi-million dollar verdict and ruled that in product liability cases such as these the consumer expectations test, and the not risk utility test should be used. As a result, the verdict was reinstated and the victim was compensated as the jury ruled he should be. This overturned the Third District’s reasoning, but it also set a precedent for future product liability cases filed against the manufacturers of faulty products.

At The Pittman Firm we represent and defend victims of faulty and defective products. If you have been injured by a defective product, contact us. We will over your case with you and give you the advice and counsel that your case deserves.

See related blog posts: Economic Loss Rule and Product Liability Cases; Florida Court of Appeals Rules on Product Liability Case.


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