When Are Suppliers Liable for Defective Products?

July 26, 2014

We recently discussed the heightened risk of appliance fires during the summer months due to increased use of air conditioning units.  Hardly a week goes by where we do not read about an unfortunate victim of an appliance-related fire.  As we explained in our previous entry, when a defective air conditioning unit or any other defective products causes a fire and you or a loved one suffers property damage, personal injury, or death, you have the right to seek compensation from the manufacturer of the defective product.

In certain circumstances, though, a manufacturer cannot be held accountable in the Ohio courts even though the manufacturer was negligent.  For example, as Ohio product liability lawyers we have seen many cases in which a manufacturer was located in a foreign country and, by using a complex supply chain to import its products, evaded the jurisdiction of Ohio courts.  Or maybe the manufacturer is simply insolvent due to bankruptcy or ceased operations.

Fortunately for injured victims, in some situations where a manufacturer cannot be held liable for its negligence, Ohio law allows product liability plaintiffs to seek compensation from the supplier of a defective product.  The Ohio Revised Code permits product liability plaintiffs to hold a supplier of a product liable as though it were the manufacturer when any of the following apply:

  • The manufacturer of that product is not subject to judicial process in this state;
  • The claimant will be unable to enforce a judgment against the manufacturer due to actual or asserted insolvency of the manufacturer;
  • The supplier owns or, when it supplied that product, owned, in whole or in part, the manufacturer of that product;
  • The supplier is owned or, when it supplied that product, was owned, in whole or in part, by the manufacturer of that product;
  • The supplier created or furnished the design that was used to manufacture the product or a component of that product;
  • The supplier altered, modified, or failed to maintain that product and the alteration, modification, or failure to maintain that product rendered it defective;
  • The supplier marketed that product under its own label or trade name;
  • The supplier failed to respond timely and reasonably to a written request to disclose the name and address of the manufacturer of that product.

If above list seems complex, that’s because it is.  The takeaway for injured victims, though, is that doubts about whether a negligent manufacturer can be held liable for your injuries should not prevent you from contacting an experienced defective products attorney to discuss your case.  Even if the manufacturer cannot be held liable, you may have recourse against the supplier of the defective products.

If you or a loved one have suffered personal injuries or death caused by a defective appliance, contact the Cleveland product liability lawyers at Lowe Scott Fisher Co., LPA for a free telephone consultation.

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