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Articles Posted in Product Liability

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The Georgia Department of Public Health sent an email over the weekend warning of dangerous products currently on store shelves:

“The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has become aware of a dangerous, potentially lethal substance surfacing in convenience stores and smoke shops. When ingested or inhaled this neurotoxin can render a person motionless and/or unconscious and cause severe cardiac problems. In the last 24 hours, at least eight patients in Southeast Ga. have been hospitalized; some patients have been admitted to intensive care and are on life support. Two patients have been intubated.

The substance is marketed as “herbal incense,” bath salts, or “roll-your-own” tobacco – similar to what public health and law enforcement have seen before containing cannabinoid receptor agonists (THC homologs), but there are now indications the chemicals or ingredients have been altered.

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When a manufacturer makes a product, they must consider the risks and harms that the product could cause. They do this because if a person is injured because of a defective product, the manufacturer will have to pay for the injury.

This has not always been the case. For a very long time, the “general rule” was that a manufacturer could not be sued, even for negligence, by someone with whom he had no contract. This was called the “rule of privity,” and it was most famously set forth in an 1842 case Winterbottom v. Wright. This rule existed for many decades. See this article for more information about the history of product liability.

The law and its assumptions began to change in the middle of the 20th century. Many people consider Ralph Nader the true pioneer of Product Liability. According to his bio, “The crusading attorney first made headlines in 1965 with his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a scathing indictment that lambasted the auto industry for producing unsafe vehicles. The book led to congressional hearings and a series of automobile safety laws passed in 1966. Since 1966, Nader has been responsible for: at least eight major federal consumer protection laws such as the motor vehicle safety laws, Safe Drinking Water Act; the launching of federal regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Environment Protection Agency (EPA), and Consumer Product Safety Administration; the recall of millions of defective motor vehicles; access to government through the Freedom of Information Act of 1974; and for many lives saved.”