Confusion in Pennsylvania Products Law?

Products liability law in Pennsylvania has become increasingly unpredictable.  In the last three years, the Third Circuit has twice opined that the state Supreme Court is likely to adopt provisions of the Restatement (Third) of Torts, which introduces the concept of negligence into products liability law.  However, the state Supreme Court has not directly addressed this issue, thus, the Restatement (Second) Torts appears to remain controlling for state courts.  Unlike the Third Restatement, the Second Restatement states that a defendant will be liable for any defective product that is unreasonably dangerous to the product’s user, which does not include the concept of negligence.   Therefore, the products liability law parties will be subject to in Pennsylvania depends entirely on whether the federal or state courts have jurisdiction in the matter.  Further, since these laws are in conflict, the rights and responsibilities of each of the parties will differ depending on which forum is selected for the case.  Getting any clarity from the state Supreme Court in the near future appears unlikely.  Therefore, for now, it appears this unpredictable aspect of Pennsylvania law will remain.

Special thanks to Colleen Hayes for her contributions to this post.  For more information, please contact Bob Cosgrove at rcosgrove@wcmlaw.com.