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What is the Consumer Expectation test in proving a design defect?
With the consumer expectations test, the court will focus on a reasonable consumer's expectation of the product's safety when the product is used in a reasonably foreseeable way.
Strict liability applies when a product is dangerous to an extent beyond that which would be contemplated by the ordinary person, with the ordinary knowledge common to the community as to its characteristics.
The standard jury instruction is:
The plaintiff claims that [he/she] was harmed by a product that was defective in that it was unreasonably dangerous under the consumer expectations test. Under the consumer expectations test, a product is unreasonably dangerous if you find that the product is dangerous to an extent beyond what would be contemplated by the ordinary consumer who purchases the product, taking into account that ordinary consumer’s knowledge of the product and its characteristics. Under this consumer expectations test, a product is unreasonably dangerous only if the plaintiff proves first, that the risk that the plaintiff claims caused harm was unknowable; and, second, that the risk that the plaintiff claims caused harm was unacceptable to the average or ordinary consumer. In making this determination, you should consider factors such as the nature of the product and its intended use; the product’s intended user; whether any warnings or instructions that accompanied the product addressed the risk involved; and the level of knowledge in the general community about the product and its risks.”
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