May 31, 2011 Articles

The Future of Strict Liability Law in Pennsylvania: Is a Change Foreseeable?

By Jodi Dyan Oley and Dennis P. Ziemba

Pennsylvania courts have long held that a distinction exists between negligence and strict liability matters. This distinction has undergone a number of challenges since it was first announced by the court, with the most recent attack courtesy of the Third Circuit with its prediction in Berrier v. Simplicity Manufacturing, Inc., 563 F.3d 38 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 130 S. Ct. 553 (2009), that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would adopt the Restatement (Third) of Torts. Since Berrier, state and federal courts in Pennsylvania have intensified their respective analyses of the appropriate framework within which to evaluate strict product liability claims. However, this continuing analysis has led to more questions than answers, as the courts have not yet developed a uniform approach. To the contrary, recent decisions on the issue have created further confusion and inconsistencies in analyzing these claims in Pennsylvania.

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