In very broad terms, a product may be defective as the result of a manufacturing flaw, a defective design, or inadequate warnings or instructions. Applying these principles to practice, products liability cases are generally brought under one or more of the following five (5) theories, which in legal terms, are called “causes of action”:
>Failure to warn;
>Breach of warranty.
Each of these causes of action is distinct and has its own particular rules, and the plaintiff's burden of proof on each such claim differs. While none of these theories are mutually or inherently exclusive to each other, very often one or more of these causes of action tends to fall by the wayside. For example, a plaintiff's claim that the product that he used (and was injured by) was defectively designed is entirely consistent with his claim that the defendants acted negligently in the way that they designed the product. Conversely, if the documentary discovery and expert review reveal that this particular product was the "lemon" out of that whole line of products, and that it was this plaintiff's bad fortune to have purchased the "lemon," then his defective manufacturing claim will continue and his defective design claim will likely be dismissed.
As you may have guessed by now, the rules to products liability cases in New York are quite complex, and are a large reason why there are so few successful defective products lawsuits.