Research Paper: Products Liability

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¶ … product liability case that revolves between Mitsubishi and Peter Laliberte. In this case, the defect in the car manufactured by the well-known automobile manufacturing company, Mitsubishi resulted in the death of an individual. The case caught attention as it revealed fault from the company's side. The case settled by Mitsubishi paying 11 million dollars to the affected family.

Product liability has been defined by many scholars on many ways. One very simple definition of product liability is 'the responsibility which the law places on those concerned with the supply of product for the losses caused by the condition of those products'. (Stapleton, 1994, p.9)

One other very precise definition of product liability is 'most of the issues pertaining to the liability of manufacturers and other sellers in the marketing chain, for physical harm arising from the dangerousness of product'. (Page, 1997, p 30)

Introduction to Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi is one of the world's leading autos manufacturing company. Mitsubishi is headquartered in Japan. Mitsubishi consists of a group of companies which share the Mitsubishi brand.

Mitsubishi is a group of companies which share the Mitsubishi brand. Mitsubishi motors are the part of the company that manufactures and sells automobiles. Mitsubishi motor is an international and world acclaimed automobile company.

About the Case

This case is a product liability case against Mitsubishi. There are three kinds of product liability that can be filed against an organization, i.e. Design defect, marketing defect and manufacturing defect. This particular case is based on design defect.

The case revolves around a particular car model of Mitsubishi called Nativa. Plaintiff Lyann Agresar was driving Nativa with his son Scott, when the car met an accident. Both the passengers were in the car and occupied the front seat. The passengers were wearing were seatbelts. During their journey, the car met an accident and lost control. The car rolled over the road several times. During this time, Scott, who was sitting next to the driver was partially evicted from the car. This ejection caused Scott to come in contact with the ground. The injuries bore by Scott were so severe, that it caused his immediate death.

The affected family filed a product liability case against Mitsubishi Corporation on behalf of the deceased. The families also sought compensation from the company on the basis of monetary and physical damages that had occurred due to the defect in the car. They also filed a lawsuit against Mitsubishi for allowing the sale of the defected product in the market. Their attorney claimed that the design defect of the seatbelt caused the death of the deceased. If the seatbelt was not faulty, the deceased would have not sustained deadly injuries. The seatbelt caused the deceased to be ejected from the car which in turn caused his death.

In this product liability case, the plaintiff focused on intentional misconduct and negligence by Mitsubishi. Both the accusations were correct as Mitsubishi was aware of the safety issues related with the car, and inspite of knowing the defect, they let the car sale. On top of everything, they tried to cover up their design defect by releasing the amended version of the same car. This case was a typical example of strict product liability. 'Strict liability generally references to the area of tort law that borrows from negligence and warranty law sp as to impose liability on manufacturers and sellers of defective products that cause injury to their users'.(Kinzi, 2002, p 97)

As the case proceeded, the family accused the company of having prior knowledge of this defect. After the investigation, it was proved that the seatbelt design was defective. Mitsubishi was aware of the defect and had redesigned the same model again in the same year after its release to overcome the flaws that were present in the car. Mitsubishi did not inform any of its existing customers who owned the defected car regarding the redesign of the same model. Mitsubishi didn't accept this allegation against the redesign of the car. Later on, some of the Mitsubishi's employees admitted that Mitsubishi motors' practiced hiding the customer complainants from the regulatory authorities.

I totally agree with the judgment of this case. The accident was totally the fault of the manufacturer. Mitsubishi was very well aware of this defect in the car's seatbelt. Even if the company was unaware of the fault, during the redesigning of the same model, they would have run all the tests in order to reaffirm the car's safety. Proper check and balance should have been assured by the company before allowing this car to be circulated in the market. The company's careless attitude towards the customer's safety led to the loss of a precious life. There is no way a company should stake the human lives in order to earn profit.

Changes in the Policies of Mitsubishi

After the lawsuits and allegation against Mitsubishi, the company has been trying very hard to gain its customer's trust. The company has been involved in many social activities in order to promote safety of the individuals. Apart from that, the company has revised its safety policy which is more customers centric. Their customer centric policy encompasses of environmental friendly and safe cars for their customers as well as the general public. Mitsubishi's 'driving with pleasure policy' has now an addition of diving with safety, reflecting their concern for safety.

In Mitsubishi's social environmental report 2010, the company has clearly stated their concern and responsibility for the environment. The company has included the development of safer cars in their policies.

Regulatory body for the automotive Industry

Mitsubishi is Japanese company. Japan automotive industry is regulated by an independent body called 'The National Traffic Safety and Environment Laboratory'. This institution is responsible to ensure safety of the traffic. The institutes carry out different approval test of automobiles prior to their sale and circulation in the market. The vehicles inspections conducted by the institutes ensures that the newly developed vehicles are fit for use and are in compliance with the environmental as well as safety standards according to the Japan Road Vehicles law.

In addition with 'The National Traffic Safety and Environment Laboratory', Japan's Ministry of Transport is also responsible for Japan ministry of transport is responsible for inspecting the complaints register of the company. Other than this, the ministry of transport are responsible for the also management of repairs and rejections of automobiles between an organization and its customers.

Recommendations for Mitsubishi

In order to improve the company's operation, Mitsubishi can work with the regulatory body and Ministry of transport by first of all revealing all their product defaults and problems honestly. Other than that, they can also gain information from the ministry about the most common faults that occur in an automobile. By doing so, they can concentrate more on those sensitive areas and ensure a safer product. Apart from that, Mitsubishi can work in conjunction with 'The National Traffic Safety and Environment Laboratory' in order to overcome all the product flaws that are likely to occur within an automobile. By being part of the automobile safety research conducted by this institute, Mitsubishi will be ensuring 100% of its automobile safety. When the automobile will be tested for safety from the manufacturer, as well as the regulatory body, the chances of risk and accident will be eliminated.

One benefit of this practice will be that in case of a lawsuit, Mitsubishi will have strong grounds to defend itself as their product has been double checked, once by the company's quality assurance, and then by the regulatory body. After all the quality assurance of the automobile is not 100% complete, the vehicle should not be allowed for sale, because once the product is out in the market, it is far more dangerous than within the manufacturer's premises.

When it comes to the duties of manufacturers, there are 3 main theories that are applied to the manufacturer. In this case, the ethical theory that applies to Mitsubishi is the 'Due care theory'. Sellers have a direct responsibility of the product they make. They have better expertise and knowledge pertaining to the product. In case of customers, not only they lack knowledge and expertise, but they are the ones that are most vulnerable to the harm that can result in the use of faulty or dangerous products.

Driving car is a risky activity. If the car manufacturers are not observing care and proper check and balance while making a car, it will surely possess a threat to not only the drivers and passengers in the cars, but to others cars as well as the pedestrians, causing physical and monetary loss. It is therefore mandatory for Mitsubishi, to develop product while keeping the idea of 'due care theory in mind'.

Recently, Mitsubishi has been involved in a lot of social activities in order to improve their image. The company should continue their practice and should focus the CSR activities as much as possible to eliminate their negative image from… [END OF PREVIEW]

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