New Jersey’s Product Liability Act – Not Always an Esacpe Hatch for a Product Lessor.

In the case of Bashir, et al. v. Home Depot, et al., the federal trial court in New Jersey was faced with the question of whether the New Jersey Product Liability Act protected Home Depot from a lawsuit arising out of its rental of a Husqvarna stump grinder. Under the statute, a product lessor is “relieved from liability for injuries caused by a defective product it leases to the public, provided that it files an affidavit certifying the correct identity of the manufacturer of the product which allegedly caused the injury.” Based upon the statute, Home Depot moved for summary judgment. The trial court denied the motion. It held that under the facts presented, Home Depot had not proven that the exceptions to the statute, i.e. (1) the product seller has exercised some significant control over the design, manufacture, packaging or labeling of the product relative to the alleged defect in the product which caused the injury, death or damage; or (2) the product seller knew or should have known of the defect in the product which caused the injury, death or damage; or the plaintiff can affirmatively demonstrate that the product seller was in possession of facts from which a reasonable person would conclude that the product seller had or should have had knowledge of the alleged defect in the product which caused the injury, death or damage; or (3) the product seller created the defect in the product which caused the injury, death or damage, did not apply. The fight against Home Depot will continue.

For more information about this post, please contact Bob Cosgrove at rcosgrove@wcmlaw.com.