In our last post, we began looking at the issue of product recalls in the context of automobile recalls. As we noted, manufacturers have a duty under both federal and state law to address product defects after a product has gone to market. Kentucky law allow for the possibility that manufacturers can be liable not only for product defects themselves, but also for acting negligently with respect to product recalls involving defective products.
Manufacturers, under Kentucky law, are required to inform consumers of product defects they become aware of after the sale of the product. There are several ways manufacturers could act negligently in carrying out this duty. For one thing, a manufacturer might delay informing consumers of the defect until injuries or fatalities occur. When there is evidence that the manufacturer knew or should have known of the defect before, this can be a basis for liability.
Another possibility is when a manufacturer fails to act diligently to inform consumers of the defect. When a failure to inform consumers leads to injury or death, the manufacturer can be held liable for that under a theory of negligence. It may also be possible, in some cases, for a consumer to hold a manufacturer liable for failing in attempts to fix the problem.
Kentucky law, as we’ve noted before, does put certain limitations on product liability which could impact consumers’ ability to seek damages from manufacturers for negligent recalls of defect products. For one thing, a consumer’s attempts to make unauthorized modifications of a product, or a consumer’s failure to use ordinary care in using the product, could limit a consumer’s recovery. Also, recovery may be limited for defective products which were not in their original condition at the time of the injury.
We’ll continue looking at this issue in our next post.