Mr. Lake

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Arvo Lake, a retired 71-year-old man, bought an air conditioner in May. The unit was installed and operated according to the manufacturer's specifications. Unbeknownst to Lake, the unit contained a hole in the refrigeration system that allowed Freon, the coolant, to escape from the unit. By August, the unit had ceased cooling, and Lake's residence reached a temperature of at least 96 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat caused Lake to suffer from hyperthermia, which caused circulatory failure and then death. The executor of Lake's estate sued the manufacturer of the air conditioner for damages resulting from breach of warranty.

Is the manufacturer (or anyone else) liable for Lake's death under either a negligence or a strict liability cause of action? What is the difference between these two claims, and how do they differ from a breach of warranty claim? Try and be as specific as possible, preferably running through the elements using the facts from the Lake case.

“Research from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission indicates that defective or unsafe products cause 29.4 million injuries and 21,400 deaths each year. You or your child may be injured by something seemingly harmless or something you use everyday, such as a hair dryer, toaster, baby chair, toy, iron, coffee maker, air conditioner, car, hand tool or even your clothing. Product liability law gives consumers the ability to sue for and recover damages from manufacturers, distributors and vendors for injuries resulting from accidents caused by products.” Strict liability is the term used to describe situations in which a person can be held liable for damages caused to another person even without negligence or other fault. Strict liability means “liability without fault,” therefore a person is liable whether or not they were negligent and whether or not they intended to do any harm. The law imposes strict liability on inherently or abnormally dangerous activities, or activities that are likely to cause...
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