A typical argument made by the plaintiffs and their experts in a design defect/ product liability case is that “Safety should never be an option.” Over the years, however, New York courts have recognized that optional safety features are perfectly appropriate under the right circumstances. If a safety feature is disadvantageous under certain conditions of use and the product can be safely used without it under those conditions, the courts have sometimes ruled that the purchaser is in a better position than the manufacturer to decide whether the safety feature is appropriate for the purchaser’s specific uses − even where the end user/injured party is not necessarily the purchaser. In cases where the purchaser is the end user’s employer, it has been held that the purchaser, as opposed to the manufacturer, was in a better position to decide whether the safety feature was appropriate for the employee’s uses. The leading example is Scarangella v. Thomas Built Buses, Inc., 717 N.E.2d 679 (NY 1999).
Continue Reading Equipment Manufacturers: Beware of the Rental Yard Customer When Safety Features Are Optional