The Guide is an invaluable online tool for litigation and transactional attorneys. The Guide provides for more than 70 common law causes of action:

- Each action’s elements;
- The most recent state and federal cases that cite the actions’ elements;
- The applicable statute of limitations for each action; and
- Defenses to each cause of action.
- AND, The Guide is updated annually.

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Strict Liability - Manufacturing Defect

1 Elements and Case Citations

1. The defendant manufactured/distributed/sold the product;

2. The product contained a manufacturing defect when it left the defendant’s possession;

3. The plaintiff was harmed; and

4. The product’s defect was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff’s harm.

“A manufacturing defect occurs when an item is manufactured in a substandard condition.” Gonzalez v. Autoliv ASP, Inc., 154 Cal.App.4th 780, 792 (2007).

“[A] defendant involved in the marketing/distribution process has been held strictly liable if three factors are present:

(1) the defendant received a direct financial benefit from its activities and from the sale of the product;
(2) the defendant’s role was integral to the business enterprise such that the defendant’s conduct was a necessary factor in bringing the product to the initial consumer market; and
(3) the defendant had control over, or a substantial ability to influence, the manufacturing or distribution process.”

Bay Summit Community Ass’n v. Shell Oil Co., 51 Cal. App. 4th 762, 773 (1996).


California Supreme Court: Soule v. General Motors Corp., 8 Cal. 4th 548, 572 (1994) (“substantial factor” requirement); Barker v. Lull Engineering Co., 20 Cal. 3d 413, 428 (1978).

California 1st Dist.: Taylor v. Elliott Turbomachinery Co. Inc., 171 Cal. App. 4th 564, 585 (2009) (referring to “manufacturing defect” as basis for liability).

California 2d Dist.: Garrett v. Howmedica Osteonics Corp., 214 Cal. App. 4th 173, 190 (2013).

California 3d Dist.: None.

California 4th Dist.: In re Coordinated Latex Glove Litig., 99 Cal. App. 4th 594, 613 (2002).

California 5th Dist.: None.

California 6th Dist.: None.


United States Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit: Garcia v. County of Alameda, 2 Fed. Appx. 769, 770 (9th Cir. 2001).

Central District: Michery v. Ford Motor Co., No. CV 12-04957 RSWL (FFMx), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161445, at *7 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 12, 2013).

Eastern District: Waldo v. Eli Lilly & Co., No. CIV. S-13-0789 LKK/EFB, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145772, at *8-9 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 8, 2013); Crayton v. Rochester Med. Corp., No. 1:07-CV-1318, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11112, at *35 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 4, 2011).

Northern District: Tucker v. Wright Med. Tech., Inc., No. 11-CV-03086-YGR, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38354, at *35-36 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2013).

Southern District: Fontalvo v. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., No. 13-cv-0331-GPC-KSC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116052, at *8-9 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 15, 2013).

2 Defenses to Claim for Manufacturing Defect

(1) Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 431.30(b)(2) (pleading affirmative defenses), and other standard defenses. See Chapter 1 for all defenses.

(2) Statute of Limitations: Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 335.1 (two years) if the plaintiff suffered personal injury.

(3) Economic Loss: “[E]conomic loss alone, without physical injury, does not amount to the type of damage that will cause a negligence or strict liability cause of action to accrue. ‘In a strict liability or negligence case, the compensable injury must be physical harm to persons or property, not mere economic loss.’” County of Santa Clara v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 137 Cal. App. 4th 292, 318 (2006).

(4) Comparative negligence “applies to actions founded on strict products liability.” Aguirre v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 1:10-cv-00311-LJO-GSA, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119979, at *21-22 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 22, 2012) (citing Daly v. General Motors Corp., 20 Cal. 3d 725, 742 (1978)).

(5) A superseding cause absolves a tortfeasor of liability, even though his or her conduct was a substantial contributing factor, when an independent event intervenes in the chain of causation, producing harm of a kind and degree so far beyond the risk the original tortfeasor should have foreseen that the law deems it unfair to hold him or her responsible. Collins v. Navistar, Inc., 214 Cal. App. 4th 1486, 1491 (2013). However, “[i]n California the doctrine requires more than mere negligence on the part of the intervening actor. ‘[T]he fact that an intervening act of a third person is done in a negligent manner does not make it a superseding cause if a reasonable man knowing the situation existing when the act of the third person is done would not regard it as highly extraordinary that the third person so acted or the act is a normal response to a situation created by the defendant's conduct and the manner in which the intervening act is done is not extraordinarily negligent.’” Doupnik v. General Motors Corp., 225 Cal. App. 3d 849, 863 (1990).

(6) Accident Does Not Imply Defect: Where a plaintiff alleges a product is defective, proof that the product has malfunctioned is essential to establish liability for an injury caused by the defect. See Khan v. Shiley, 217 Cal. App. 3d 848, 855 (1990). “The defect must be affirmatively established, and an inference of [a manufacturing] defect as a result of the accident is not to be drawn.” Barrett v. Atlas Powder Co., 86 Cal. App. 3d 560, 565 (1978).

(7) Prescription Drugs: Although manufacturers cannot be held liable for defective design of a prescription drug, they can be held liable for defective manufacture. Brown v. Superior Court, 44 Cal. 3d 1049, 1069 n.12 (1988).