Law360 recently published an Expert Analysis article from Tanenbaum Keale LLP partner Timothy Freeman focused on challenges related to the “misuse” defense in product liability litigation, highlighted by a recent ruling from the District of Minnesota. In McDougall v. CRC Industries Inc., the plaintiff’s decedent was killed in an automobile accident caused by a third party who was driving while intoxicated after inhaling, or huffing, gases from a computer dust remover the defendant manufactured.

Sued for strict liability, negligence and breach of warranty, CRC filed a motion for summary judgment, which was denied.

“The result in McDougall is counterintuitive, in the sense that the product was clearly being misused in an unintended and outrageous manner, but the misuse did not necessarily absolve the manufacturer of liability,” Freeman wrote in part. “This illustrates the inherent difficulty in applying the misuse defense — but it is far from the only obstacle that practitioners may encounter when attempting to use this defense as part of their litigation strategy.”

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