Can fraudulent advertisements lead to a defective product claim?

Under California law, a manufacturer, and therefore all those involved in the marketing chain, of a product are legally responsible for any damage or injury caused by defective products.

Additionally, California Business and Professions Code statutes prohibit the use of false or misleading advertising about the nature of a product or service. This includes false or misleading statements in print, digital, or any other advertising media.

Courts in the state of California hold that those individuals or organizations that have profited from promoting a defective product in commercial signs must bear the costs of injuries caused by this product. This is because:

  • The manufacturer, unlike consumers, can anticipate or prevent the recurrence of hazards.
  • The cost of injuries can be an overwhelming tragedy for the injured consumer, while manufacturers can insure against the risk and spread the cost out to the consuming public.
  • It is in the public interest to discourage the marketing of defective products.

In legal terms, this means that a plaintiff does not have to prove negligence to prevail in a product defect case. Liability will be determined if the plaintiff can show that the product was defective and that there is a sufficient causal connection between the defendant, the product, and the plaintiff’s injury.

With very few exceptions, every commercial product manufactured and distributed in California is subject to strict product liability law. This includes land vehicles, airplanes, toys, chairs, refrigerators, perfumes, commercial and industrial machinery, household equipment, furniture and appliances, clothing, etc.

The exception to this general rule includes certain “intrinsically unsafe, commonly consumed” products, as well as medical devices and prescription drugs. However, this exception only applies if the product is generally known by consumers to be “inherently unsafe.” This includes products like sugar, castor oil, alcohol, and butter.

In addition, there is some limitation in product liability cases against manufacturers of firearms and ammunition. The potential for a firearm or ammunition to cause serious injury or death when discharged does not make it defective in design. However, the manufacturer may be liable if the plaintiff can show an “improper selection of design alternatives” and if the plaintiff can show a significant manufacturing defect.