Dateline: June, 2007, Issue 6

What do jurors expect of product manufacturers?

Plaintiffs frequently argue that their personal injuries are caused by product defects. In such cases, jurors' attitudes about product manufacturers are critical.

Hans and Lofquist (1992) interviewed, post-trial, 141 jurors who had served on cases involving businesses and corporations, and representing a broad spectrum of business issues including worker injuries, asbestos and product liability cases, consumer injuries in the workplace, and automobile accidents in which a business vehicle was involved.

All jurors were asked their views about product safety. Jurors placed strong responsibility on product manufacturers:

Jurors can be persuaded to lower the responsibility placed on manufacturers, at least somewhat. For example, jurors from asbestos trials were more likely to agree that corporations should not be held responsible for product defects if the corporations relied on scientific and safety information available at the time of product introduction. Said differently, asbestos defense attorneys were partly successful in shifting jurors' views on this issue, although jurors' views shifted only slightly (i.e.., when measured on a 5 point scale, from an average of 2.8 to an average of 3.5).

In sum, jurors place strong responsibility on product manufacturers for the safety of their products.

Source Hans, V. P., & Lofquist, W. S. (1992). Jurors' judgments of business liability in tort cases: Implications for the litigation explosion debate. Law & Society Review, 26, pp. 85-115.