Monday, November 26, 2012

Product Liability: Who's at Fault?

Product liability is a topic that has been discussed and disagreed on for many years.  Some say that the producer of the product is completely liable for its safety, while other people argue that common sense must come into play and that the consumer shares much of the liability.  The McDonalds case is one of the most well-known product liability cases.  It seems that most scholarly individuals feel that Ms. Stella Leibeck who was burned by the scalding coffee is responsible for the accident and that no lawsuit should have been filed.  I, on the other hand, tend to agree with the Ms. Leibeck.  The coffee was served extremely hot, and she did not consider the temperature (how hot it actually was) until it was too late.  I believe that manufacturers cannot assume ANYTHING on the part of the consumer.Product designers must “simplify to the extreme” in order to do everythingpossible to prevent consumer accidents.  America consists of an extremely diverse body of people (in terms of education), and you cannot assume that everyone’s intelligence/interest level matches that of your own.  If I was McDonalds, a label at the bottom would read “Caution! Coffee served at 135 degrees! Wait 5 minutes before drinking!” or something of that nature.  Our job as engineers should spell out all product hazards in an attempt to protect everyone who uses the product.    Anything less than that is irresponsible and (in my opinion) should be punishable by heavy fine and even loss of job.


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