Negligence of the Manufacturer of a Product
Products Liability Cases In Hawaii
Manufacturers have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care in the design and safety of their products. As stated in Ontai v. Straub Clinic and Hospital, 66 Haw. at 247, 659 P.2d at 734:
“The legal duty of manufacturers, such as G.E., to exercise reasonable care in the design and incorporation of safety features to protect against foreseeable dangers is well established. Powell v. E.W. Bliss Co., 346 F.Supp. 819 (W.D.Mich.1972); see also Byrnes v. Economic Machinery Co., 41 Mich.App. 192, 200 N.W.2d 104 (1972). This court has also made it clear that plaintiffs in design defect cases may proceed on both a theory of negligence for negligent design and a theory of strict liability in tort for defective design. Brown v. Clark Equipment Co., supra.” [Brown v. Clark Equipment Co., 62 Haw. 530, 618 P.2d 267 (1980)] 66 Haw. at 247, 659 P.2d at 734
In general, the use of a product by a consumer is premised upon the reasonable expectation that the product has been designed and manufactured with due care and consideration for the safety of the individual utilizing the product. Manufacturers are required to be familiar with the development of their product and not to take steps backward in the development process of their product. Product safety assurance considerations mandate that the manufacturer perform thorough and appropriate safety testing of the product under conditions reasonably anticipated during its reasonably foreseeable use, as well as its reasonably foreseeable misuse. Consumers have the right to expect that the manufacture will pay close attention to and address any safety considerations brought to their attention by the users of the products. The product should not be designed to create unnecessary dangers and any dangers present after reasonable design precautions have been taken must be fully disclosed and warned against.
The seller of a product who purchases component parts and assembles them into a product marketed under its name becomes responsible for each of the components of that product. See, “Products liability; Manufacturers’ responsibility for defective components supplied by another and incorporated in product.” 3 ALR 3d 1016. Although in some circumstances, a seller of a product may be entitled to rely upon a reputable source of product to satisfy its duty to inspect, test and properly design (see, Outwater v. Miller, 3 App.Div. 2d 670, 158 NYS 2d 562 (1957)), where a supplier is of dubious reputation, a manufacturer and/or assembler must inspect and if necessary even test component parts provided for its products. See, Outwater, supra. If a component from a dubious source is included without testing into a manufacturer’s product, the manufacturer is responsible for the product which it sold as its own as if it were the manufacturer. Wagner v. Larson, 257 Iowa 1202, 136 NW 2d 312 (1965).