According to Florida case law, a product liability injury victim has the burden, whether their case is founded in negligence, breach of an implied warranty, or strict liability, of establishing that a defect was present in the product, that it caused the injuries complained of, and that it existed at the time the retailer or supplier parted possession with the product:
While appellants are not required to prove in a strict liability action that the manufacturer or retailer was negligent in the preparation or distribution of a product, they nevertheless have the burden, whether their case is founded in negligence, breach of an implied warranty, or strict liability, of establishing (1) that a defect was present in the product; (2) that it caused the injuries complained of; and (3) that it existed at the time the retailer or supplier parted possession with the product. 2 Frumer and Friedman, Products Liability, s 16A(4)(e)(i) at 3B-88, 89 (1980). Appellees argue that appellants’ burden was not met because their evidence failed to pinpoint a defect inside the clothes dryer either at the time of the accident or at the time the product left the control of the manufacturer or supplier.
How a plaintiff meets his burden in a products liability case and thereby establishes a submissible case for jury consideration has been the source of frequent litigation. Since Section 402A of the Restatement of Torts (Second) has been adopted in Florida by West v. Caterpillar Tractor Co., Inc., 336 So.2d 80 (1976), that section should be carefully consulted in order to ascertain if the alleged offending product is one which may be subject to the Restatement’s definition of defectiveness and, if so, to know what type of evidence must be presented to establish a submissible case of product defectiveness.
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