SYMPOSIUM ON GENERIC PRODUCTS LIABILITY: UNAVOIDABLY UNSAFE PRODUCTS: A MODEST PROPOSAL Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1996 Chicago-Kent College of Law 
Chicago-Kent Law Review

SYMPOSIUM ON GENERIC PRODUCTS LIABILITY: UNAVOIDABLY UNSAFE PRODUCTS: A MODEST PROPOSAL

1996

72 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 189

Author

Ellen Wertheimer *

Excerpt

8131*189



Introduction
 
This Article concerns unavoidably dangerous products and how courts should handle the injuries they cause. Unavoidably dangerous products are products that injure a certain percentage of those who use them competently and that cannot be made safe. 1 In other words, a certain percentage of the nonnegligent consumers of these products will be injured by them, and there is no way either to reduce the numbers of those who will be injured or to predict who they will be. 2

There are three basic categories of products that contain unavoidable dangers. Products in these three categories are dangerous when competently used; by definition, there is no alternative reasonable design that would eliminate the danger. 3 These three categories are as follows:


 
(1) dangerous products the utility of which outweighs their dangers and which are available and in use for the good of society generally (such as vaccines); 4

(2) dangerous products the utility of which outweighs their dangers and which are available and in use as needed by certain members of 8131*190 society (such as ladders and prescription medications other than vaccines); 5 and

(3) dangerous products the dangers of which outweigh their utility (such as cigarettes). 6


 
The problem posed by the first two of these categories is that the products in these categories are not defective. 7 They pass any applicable cost-benefit test - their utility outweighs their costs. Thus, as the law now stands there is no basis for imposing liability on ...
 
 
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