Product misuse is a defense asserted in many product liability claims as a bar to the claim. The term “product misuse” is a bit of a misnomer. The manufacturer will classify as misuse as any unintended use. Courts however apply a broader definition typically to the term of product misuse to constitute a use that is not reasonably foreseeable. As such, the use may be unintended by the manufacturer but it may still be reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer. In that event, it should not constitute misuse. The placement of a towel on a sauna heater may not be an intended use of the sauna heater but it is a foreseeable use and, as such, should not constitute misuse. If this use was foreseeable to the manufacturer, then the manufacturer has a duty to reduce or avoid the risk or, in the alternative, to warn of the dangers associated with the product.
Foreseeable Risk of Product Use
The Restatement of Torts (Third) states in §2 that a seller will be liable only if a plaintiff is harmed while using the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner and if the risk of harm was reasonably foreseeable. It should be kept in mind that the party bringing the claim has the burden of showing that the use of the product was indeed foreseeable by the manufacturer.
Contact a Product Liability Attorney
If you have been injured as a result of a product defect, contact us. Brien Roche is a product liability attorney in Northern Virginia with over 35 years of experience handling cases in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia.