Bill to expand product liability lawsuits

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, June 13, 2014 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

SB 1188 (Hanna-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara) would allow a person to sue, for any alleged problem with a product, even if the warranty expired many years prior. The bill’s new theory of liability would drastically change the landscape of warranty and product liability law in California. As one court noted regarding a similar effort to effect such a change through litigation, “failure of a product to last forever would become a ‘defect,’ a manufacturer would no longer be able to issue limited warranties, and product defect litigation would become as widespread as manufacturing itself.” (Quoting the trial court, Daugherty v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 144 Cal.App.4th 824 (Cal. App. 2 Dist, (2006)).

CMTA believes this bill is unnecessary because current law already allows post-warranty lawsuits related to a product’s safety, or for fraud and misrepresentation. Lawsuits over safety concerns outside the warranty period are permitted because the average consumer expects manufacturers to guarantee against unreasonable safety risks.

By making manufactures liable for product performance without a time limit, this bill would make warranties meaningless, driving up costs to all consumers and encourage meritless product litigation against businesses. The only beneficiaries of this scheme are the attorneys. California already continues to consistently rank at the bottom of national lists for its business and legal climate. Unfortunately, this bill would be another step to reinforce those rankings.

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