Can You File a Product Liability Claim Amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic?
While the COVID-19 pandemic still continues to ravage the country, many manufacturers, distributors, and sellers across the United States are worried about the potential for product liability claims amid the coronavirus outbreak.
COVID-19 and Product Liability
Although there have been limited coronavirus-related product liability lawsuits in the U.S. so far, experts predict that lawsuits against those who exposed consumers to the COVID-19 virus or made false advertisement claims could become quite widespread in the coming months.
Anyone involved in the chain of distribution of a product alleged to be related to coronavirus exposure could be at risk of litigation. If consumers have any valid reason to think that they were exposed to COVID-19 as a result of using a product that is deemed defective, or that product made false marketing claims, the product’s manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and others could be held liable.
Product Liability Claims Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak
Under Florida law, consumers are entitled to pursue a product liability claim against parties that manufacture, sell, distribute, and supply defective products, but only if such a product causes personal injury due to the defect.
However, manufacturers and other businesses that have anything to do with the coronavirus disease are more likely to face product liability claims related to false marketing, deceitful advertisement, marketing misrepresentation, and breach of warranties.
Strict liability claims are unlikely amid the coronavirus outbreak except under certain rare circumstances. Claims based upon negligence and failure to warn may also be filed against manufacturers.
Perhaps the most widespread claim is the manufacturer’s false marketing claim that their product can protect against the coronavirus disease without scientific evidence.
Coronavirus-Related Product Liability: False Marketing and Breach of Warranty Claims
After the virus entered the country, the Food and Drug Administration sent out letters to specific companies warning them against making false marketing claims that were deceitful or not supported by scientific evidence. Specifically, those letters targeted companies that made false claims about their products’ ability to treat COVID-19 or protect against the virus.
Many consumers and their attorneys could use these warning letters to file lawsuits based on false advertising claims, consumer fraud, marketing misrepresentation, and breach of warranty, among other legal theories.
Coronavirus-related breach of warranty claim against the manufacturer or distributor can be based on either express or implied warranties. While an implied warranty is not explicitly stated, an express warranty can be either oral or written (e.g., labels, advertisements, or marketing materials).
However, the seller can disclaim implied warranty. Also, implied warranties for the sale of products, including drugs and medicine, can include the implied warranty of merchantability and the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.
For instance, consumers could sue a company for making claims suggesting that its product treated the coronavirus disease. Affected consumers could pursue a product liability claim based on a breach of warranty or false marketing.
The problem with coronavirus-related product liability claims is that the plaintiff must demonstrate causation. In other words, plaintiffs are required to prove that this particular product or its defect caused their serious injury or illness. As you can guess, this can be quite problematic when your claim involves COVID-19.