Products Liability–The Expansion of Fraud, Negligence, and Strict Tort Liability

While judicial acceptance of this concept of strict tort liability has been proceeding apace, far less dramatic but equally significant developments have been occurring with respect to both negligence and fraud liability. The possibility of recovering for a seller’s misrepresentations concerning his product has been enhanced by a plaintiff-oriented judicial redefinition of two elements of a cause of action for fraud: defendant’s knowledge of the falsity of his representation and plaintiff’s reliance upon the deception. At the same time, negligence liability has often come to resemble liability without fault as courts continue to deemphasize, as a prerequisite to the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, the rule that a defendant must have had, at the time of the mishap, exclusive possession and control of the instrumentality which caused a plaintiff’s injury. This Comment will particularize and analyze these and other developments relative to tort liability for defective products, with the objects of setting forth the present state of the law and of suggesting the general course that future developments should take.