SW Legal studies in Business

Compliance with Federal Safety Standards May Not Eliminate Common Law Liability
Description Appeals court held that a tort suit brought by a consumer injured when he fell into a glass shower door was not preempted by the Consumer Product Safety Act. Compliance with the act does not eliminate the possibility of common-law liability for defective products.
Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words Consumer Product Safety Act; Preemption; Torts
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Leipart slipped while showering and fell against a glass shower door made by Guardian. He asserts that the door broke into long, dangerous shards of glass, rather than into small, relatively harmless pieces. He suffered serious cuts that required emergency surgery. He sued Guardian in tort for his injuries. The judge dismissed his suit as preempted by the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) since Guardian was in compliance with CPSA safety standards for glass doors. Leipart appealed.
Decision Reversed. The CPSA did not preempt state common-law tort claims against the door manufacturer that relied on a different, and higher, standard of care for design, manufacture, and distribution of products than that imposed by applicable CPSA safety standards. The act contains a savings clause indicating that state common-law tort claims were not preempted where there was compliance with consumer product safety rules under the CPSA and that do not conflict with the goals of the CPSA.
Citation Leipart v. Guardian Industries, Inc., 234 F.3d 1063 (9th Cir., 2000)

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