Varying interpretations of strict liability law in Pennsylvania have led to confusion that shows no sign of abating in 2011. The progeny of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s 2004 ruling in Phillips v. Cricket Lighter and the 2006 Pennsylvania Supreme Court case Pennsylvania Department of General Services v. U.S. Mineral Products tells us that Restatement (Second) of Torts Section402A is the controlling strict liability rule in Pennsylvania, albeit with some peculiar twists. The most recent 2011 Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion that touched on the matter is Schmidt v. Boardman Co. , in which the majority said “Notwithstanding the 3rd Circuit’s prediction, however, the present status quo in Pennsylvania entails the continued application of Section 402A of the Restatement Second , subject to the admonition that there should be no further judicial expansions of its scope under current strict liability doctrine. [citation omitted]. This case was not selected to address the foundational concerns, and accordingly, the pathways to global resolution are not developed in significant detail in the briefing. Thus, we can do little more here than to remark that the difficulties persist.”

One of the persisting difficulties, as mentioned above, 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ “prediction” that Pennsylvania will adopt Restatement (Third) of Torts Section 6(c). The confusion is well summed up by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s 2010 ruling in Hoffman v. Paper Converting Machine Co . Further, the situation is complicated by the 3rd Circuit Court’s need to first address whether the relevant standard for products liability law is expressed in the Restatement (Second) of Torts or the Restatement (Third) of Torts. This arises from the 2009 decision in Berrier v. Simplicity Manufacturing. In Berrier , the 3rd Circuit predicted that Pennsylvania would adopt the Restatement (Third) of Torts . Yet, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court case on which the 3rd Circuit based its prediction was dismissed as improvidently granted in 2009; see 2008′s Bugosh v. I.U. North Am., Inc. , meaning that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court never reached the merits of the case.

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