In order to hold a defendant liable in a product liability case, tort law traditionally has required an injured plaintiff to show that the named defendant manufactured, sold or distributed the product that allegedly caused the plaintiff’s injury. Over the years, however, courts have established exceptions to this general rule. See, e.g., Thomas v. Mallett, 701 N.W.2d 523 (Wis. 2005) (lead paint manufacturers held liable under a market share liability theory even though the plaintiff could not prove which defendant manufactured injury-causing product).
Recently, several courts have further eased plaintiffs’ burden of proof by using theories of designer liability to hold companies responsible for injuries to consumers, even though the plaintiff could not show that the defendant manufactured, sold or distributed the product that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
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