When courts consider a product liability lawsuit, they will instruct the jury on one of two available tests to determine whether the plaintiff has established their case against the defendant manufacturer. In Florida, courts use the consumer-expectation test to evaluate a plaintiff’s Florida product liability claim.
The consumer-expectation test is fairly straightforward and requires jurors to ask themselves whether the product at issue performed as a consumer would expect it to perform under the circumstances. This test is generally preferred by product liability plaintiffs to the other predominant test, the risk-utility test.
Under a risk-utility analysis, jurors are asked whether the risks of the design chosen by the defendant manufacturer outweighed the utility, or benefit, the design provided. The risk-utility test also requires that the plaintiff establish that there was a reasonably safe alternative design that the defendant manufacturer could have used. Since this test places a burden on the plaintiff to establish that a reasonably safe alternative exists, this is generally a more difficult test for product liability plaintiffs to meet.