LEG 500 – Law and Ethics In the Business Environment
Consumers use a variety of products on a daily basis to assist them in accomplishing a task or completing a project and they expect the product to be properly designed and safe to use. However, in the event that a product is defective and causes injury to the person using it, the manufacturer may be liable for the injury and have to compensate the injured person (s). Companies that manufacture products need to be sure they are doing all within their power to assemble products that are free of defects that could accidentally cause harm and cost the company. Product liability is the responsibility of manufacturers, distributors and sellers of products to the public, to deliver products free of defects which harm an individual or numerous persons and to make good on that responsibility if their products are defective (Product Liability, 2011). Products containing inherent defects that cause harm to a consumer of the product, or someone to whom the product was loaned or given, are the subjects of products liability suits (Product Liability Law). Products liability claims can be based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty of fitness depending on the jurisdiction within which the claim is based. If a person(s) is injured while properly using a product that is defective, they have a right to file a claim against the company that would be titled a product liability lawsuit. However, in order to prevail on a product liability claim, the product complained of must be shown to be defective (Product Liability Law, 2011). A defective product causes injury or damage to a person or a person's property because of some defect in the product, its labeling or the manner in which the product was used. There are three types of product defects that incur liability in manufacturers and suppliers: design defects, manufacturing defects, and defects in marketing. Each of the defects has different parameters that must be considered when a claim is brought against a company. Defective products can cause serious personal injury and even death; therefore, the manufacturer needs to make sure they have tested the product(s) rigorously to make sure they meet safe standards prior to making the product(s) available for consumers to purchase. Hitachi is a company that offers an extensive line of home improvement power tools and accessories, including woodworking and metalworking power tools, drilling and fastening equipment, and concrete drilling and cutting tools (Hitachi, 2010). In addition, Hitachi offers pneumatic nail guns, staplers, compressors, and collated fasteners that allow users to easily remodel and maintain their home. Hitachi power tools are renowned for offering maximum convenience, precision, power, and durability and the products are sturdily designed and capable of delivering tough and revolutionary performance (2010). In spite of their sturdy design, one of the pneumatic nail guns had a safety issue that led to a lawsuit. The product that had a safety issue was the pneumatic full head nail gun (Model NR83A). The pneumatic nail gun was capable of holding 64 – 70 nails and it had a contact trip trigger as a safety feature and it delivers 860 inch-pounds of driving force. The Model NR83A pneumatic nail gun is rather lightweight and it is by far one of the most powerful nail guns available on the market. However, Mr. Oliver was injured as a result of using the pneumatic Model NR83A nail gun that was defective. It had a contact trip mechanism, which allows a nail to be fired when the nose of the nail gun is in contact with a surface and the trigger is pulled, regardless of the order in which those events occur. The fact that Hitachi’s gun didn’t have a sequential trip mechanism, which allows a nail to be fired only if the trigger is pulled after the nose of the gun...