- Get Free Essays and Term Papers

Product Liability Law with Regards to the Illinois Tool Works Company

Autor:   •  April 6, 2019  •  Essay  •  1,585 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,309 Views

Page 1 of 7

Product Liability Law with Regards to the Illinois Tool Works Company

Kevin Cartwright

Park University

     Corporations and manufactures of all shapes and sizes are subject to product liability lawsuits.

The sixteenth edition of Business Law states “Product Liability refers to a manufacturer or seller being held liable for placing a defective product into the hands of a consumer.”  In this paper I will discuss product liability law, failure to warn, negligent design, and the defense of product misuse with regards to the Illinois Tool Works Inc. or ITW.  ITW is a globally diversified fortune 500 company.  They are comprised of 50 subsidiaries with an annual gross revenue of over $14.5 billion. With over 49,000 employees, they manufacture products from construction tools to medical adhesives. As such a large company, they encounter numerous claims of product liability annually.  I have narrowed this topic to the Paslode division of ITW and a lawsuit they have encountered related to product liability.  Below is a brief description of this case.

Michael L. Miller v Illinois Tool Works., and Paslode Corporation

     In this case, Miller, the plaintiff alleges the injury he received while using an ITW Paslode Framing Nail Gun was due to a negligent design in the product.  Miller was using the nail gun to install wood framing members when the tool allegedly malfunctioned and fired multiple nails at once resulting in a nail hitting his eye, causing a severe injury.  Miller claims he had worn safety glasses, provided with the nail gun at the time of purchase, for several hours before they started and continued to fog up.  He then choose to remove the safety glasses and continue to work without them when the injury occurred.   ITW and their Paslode division, the defendants, prove Miller was very familiar with the tool, had read the operating manual several times, and had chosen to disregard a warning requiring users to wear safety glasses when using the tool. They further showed the actual tool used had no product defects that would cause it to fire more than one nail at a time.  The jury found in favor of the defense. I will expand on the issues involved in this case in the following paragraphs.

Product Liability Law:  Negligent Design

     Many product liability claims stem from the negligent design of the product manufactured. According to the sixteenth edition of Business Law “Manufactures have a duty to design their products so as to avoid reasonably foreseeable risks of harm”.  Cases involving design defects often include factors such as the magnitude or severity of the foreseeable harm, industry practices at the time the product was manufactured, the state of the art at the time, and the product’s compliance with government regulations at the time of manufacture.  Courts frequently use the risk-utility test along with the above listed factors when analyzing whether a manufacture negligently adopts a specific design.  In Miller v ITW, the jury relied on testimony from the defendant’s design experts. This testomony was ordered sealed by the court at the request of ITW because the information given was proprietary and of great value to their company.  The defense also proved the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness to be inaccurate. The sixteenth edition of Business Law gives this example as related to automotive manufactures “Courts have tended to conclude that vehicle manufactures must adopt designs that furnish reasonable protection to vehicle occupants in the event of typical crashes”.  The same logic applies to all manufactures including ITW.  In addition to adopting safe designs, ITW includes safety glasses with the purchase of the tool and provides dozens of caution and warning statements to help protect the end user.

Product Liability Law:  Failure to Warn

     Manufactures have a duty to warn consumers and product users when they are at risk while using their products.  Failure to warn consumers of these risks expose a company to product liability lawsuits.  The sixteenth edition of Business Law states in regards to failure to warn, “Courts often consider other factors besides the reasonable foreseeability of the risk.  These include the magnitude or severity of the likely harm, the ease or difficulty of providing an appropriate warning, and the likely effectiveness of a warning”.  While some courts conclude there is no duty to warn if the risk is obvious, ITW and their Paslode division choose to provide more than adequate caution and warning statements in their operating manuals as well as on the products themselves.  The cordless nail gun at the center of the Miller v ITW lawsuit discussed here have twenty five caution and warning statements in the operating manual, a warning on its case and a warnings on the tool itself.  The most pertinent to this case being, “Always wear EYE and EAR safety gear when working with or in the vicinity of the Paslode Framing Nailer.”   In Miller v ITW, Miller choose not to follow this warning.  ITW successfully argued that if he would have worn the provided safety glasses and used the tool as it was intended, he would not have sustained the injury to his eye.  Having proved failure to warn was not at issue, ITW used the defense of product misuse to win the case.    


Download:   txt (9.1 Kb)   pdf (112.5 Kb)   docx (11.4 Kb)  
Continue for 6 more pages »
Only available on