Anderson v. Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corp

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Anderson v. Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corp
Court Supreme Court of California
Citation 53 Cal.3d 987
810 P.2d 549
281 Cal.Rptr. 528
Date decided May 30, 1991

Facts

Defendants were manufacturers of products containing asbestos, and the plaintiff contracted lung ailments through exposure to asbestos while working as an electrician.


Procedural History

The court of appeal allowed the admissibility of state of the art evidence to proffer evidence of knowability.


Issues

Whether a defendant in a products liability action based upon a failure to warn of a risk of harm may present evidence of the state of the art.

Whether knowability is an element of a failure-to-warn strict liability case.Whether admitting state of the art evidence improperly infuses negligence concepts into strict liability cases by directing the trier of fact’s attention to the conduct of the manufacturer rather than to the condition of the product.


Judgment: affirmed.


Rules

The courts require knowledge, actual or constructive, of potential risk or danger before imposing strict liability for a failure to warn. Therefore the state of the art may be relevant to the question of knowability, and should be admissible.

Knowledge or knowability is a component of strict liability for failure to warn.