As consumer technology becomes increasingly complex, so too does the manufacturer’s task in assessing the scope of its duty to warn of potential dangers. A recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Rosa v. Taser International, Inc., offers a prime illustration of this challenge through its analysis of a hazard posed by Taser weaponry. The Rosa court highlights a point of uncertainty in this area of law: courts typically determine which hazards were knowable at the time of manufacture as a matter of law, but they sometimes do so in the absence of a comprehensive standard. This Article evaluates the Ninth Circuit’s approach as a potential model for other courts. After a brief survey of U.S. products liability law pertaining to the “knowability” requirement, this Article analyzes the Rosa decision. Although the Rosa court bemoans the absence of a comprehensive standard for making this determination in California, the court’s reasoning implicitly suggests a three-part test that could serve as a model in California and elsewhere. Such a standard would reduce the legal uncertainty faced by manufacturers assessing the extent of their duty and by plaintiffs assessing the strength of their claims.
Scott P. Kennedy,
Who Knew? Refining the "Knowability" Standard for the Future of Potentially Hazardous Technologies,
9 Wash. J. L. Tech. & Arts
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wjlta/vol9/iss4/2