California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1200. Strict Liability - Essential Factual Elements

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she] was harmed by a product [distributed/manufactured/sold] by [name of defendant] that:

[contained a manufacturing defect;] [or] [was defectively designed;] [or]

[did not include sufficient [instructions] [or]

[warning of potential safety hazards].]

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • “A manufacturer, distributor, or retailer is liable in tort if a defect in the manufacture or design of its product causes injury while the product is being used in a reasonably foreseeable way.” (Soule v. GM Corp. (1994) 8 Cal.4th 548, 560 [34 Cal.Rptr.2d 607, 882 P.2d 298], internal citations omitted.)
  • “Strict liability has been invoked for three types of defects—manufacturing defects, design defects, and ‘warning defects,’ i.e., inadequate warnings or failures to warn.” (Anderson v. Owens- Corning Fiberglas Corp. (1991) 53 Cal.3d 987, 995 [281 Cal.Rptr. 528, 810 P.2d 549].)
  • “A manufacturer is strictly liable in tort when an article he places on the market, knowing that it is to be used without inspection for defects, proves to have a defect that causes injury to a human being… The purpose of such liability is to insure that the costs of injuries resulting from defective products are borne by the manufacturers that put such products on the market rather than by the injured persons who are powerless to protect themselves.” (Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, Inc. (1963) 59 Cal.2d 57, 62—63 [27 Cal.Rptr. 697, 377 P.2d 897].)
  • “Beyond manufacturers, anyone identifiable as ‘an integral part of the overall producing and marketing enterprise’ is subject to strict liability.” (Arriaga v. CitiCapital Commercial Corp. (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 1527, 1534 [85 Cal.Rptr.3d 143].)
  • “[T]o hold a defendant strictly liable under a marketing/distribution theory, the plaintiff must demonstrate that: ‘(1) the defendant received a direct financial benefit from its activities and from the sale of the product; (2) the defendant’s role was integral to the business enterprise such that the defendant’s conduct was a necessary factor in bringing the product to the initial consumer market; and (3) the defendant had control over, or a substantial ability to influence, the manufacturing or distribution process.’ ” (Arriaga, supra, 167 Cal.App.4th at p. 1535.)
  • “[T]he doctrine of strict liability may not be restricted on a theory of privity of contract. Since the doctrine applies even where the manufacturer has attempted to limit liability, they further make it clear that the doctrine may not be limited on the theory that no representation of safety is made to the bystander. [¶¶] If anything, bystanders should be entitled to greater protection than the consumer or user where injury to bystanders from the defect is reasonably foreseeable. Consumers and users, at least, have the opportunity to inspect for defects and to limit their purchases to articles manufactured by reputable manufacturers and sold by reputable retailers, whereas the bystander ordinarily has no such opportunities. In short, the bystander is in greater need of protection from defective products which are dangerous, and if any distinction should be made between bystanders and users, it should be made, contrary to the position of defendants, to extend greater liability in favor of the bystanders.” (Elmore v. American Motors Corp. (1969) 70 Cal.2d 578, 586 [75 Cal.Rptr. 652, 451 P.2d 84].)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 1428—1437

Haning et al., California Practice Guide: Personal Injury, Ch. 2(II)-D, Strict Liability For Defective Products, ¶¶ 2:1207, 2:1215 (The Rutter Group)

California Products Liability Actions, Ch. 2, Liability for Defective Products, § 2.10 (Matthew Bender)

40 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 460, Products Liability, § 460.11 (Matthew Bender)

19 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 190, Products Liability, § 190.20 et seq. (Matthew Bender)