In one of the most highly anticipated opinions in recent memory for products liability practitioners, manufacturers and clients, the Florida Supreme Court finally issued its opinion in Aubin v. Union Carbide on Oct. 29.
Aubin involved an asbestos and mesothelioma case tried by a jury, which returned a multimillion dollar verdict in favor of the plaintiff. While at first glance an asbestos case may seem not to have much relevance to other product cases (such as automobiles, recreational products, appliances and so forth), Aubin has mass appeal because it involved tensions between the consumer expectations and risk utility tests, as well as other issues involving causation. The primary focus of this article will be on the consumer expectation and risk utility tests issue. Aubin was on nearly everyone’s radar because the Florida Supreme Court approved the product liability instructions March 26, 2015. As it had for years, the recently enacted product liability instructions included both the reasonable consumer expectations test, as well as the risk utility standard. Oral arguments in Aubin took place in April 2014. As such, the product liability instructions were approved after the Aubin oral arguments but while the decision was still pending.
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