Copyright (c) 2002 University of South Carolina
South Carolina Law Review
ARTICLE: Manufacturing Defects
53 S.C. L. Rev. 851
David G. Owen*
Manufacturing defects, flaws or irregularities in products arising from errors in production, 1 give rise to the most basic type of products liability claim. The misalignment of a punch press may result in a jagged burr along a product's metal edge; 2 the misadjustment of a nut on a bolt may interfere with a machine's operation; 3 and the failure to prevent foreign matter from entering food or drink may cause its contamination. 4 Tire failures frequently are the result of defective manufacturing. 5 For example, a rash of failures of Bridgestone/Firestone tires on Ford Explorers probably resulted in part from various irregularities in the production process. 6 When the manufacturing process goes awry, the resulting products may fail to meet the manufacturer's own design specification standards. If such a product escapes the manufacturer's quality controls, its flawed condition may lead to its failure during use, to an accident, and possibly to an injury to the user or another.
In general, manufacturers and other suppliers are liable for injuries caused by manufacturing defects in products that they sell. 7 Keeler v. Richards Mfg. Co., Inc., 8 which involved a surgical compression screw, is illustrative. The screw broke several months after a surgeon inserted it into the plaintiff's broken hip to assist the healing process. 9 In the plaintiff's action against the manufacturer, her experts testified that the screw had four irregularities they considered manufacturing defects, any one of which could have caused the failure ...
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