Manufacturing defects are a type of product defect that can lead to products liability. This kind of defect occurs when a product departs from its intended design and is more dangerous than consumers expect the product to be. In contrast to design defects that affect all the products, manufacturing defects only occur to some of the products because of some flaw during manufacture.
A plaintiff who suffers damages may be able to recover from manufacturing defects based on strict liability, negligence, or based upon a warranty theory. Each method requires proving the defect actually caused the damages claimed. In order to prove a manufacturing defect for strict liability, a plaintiff must show that the product received did not follow the manufacturer’s design and the defect occurred before leaving the control of the manufacturer. Manufacturing defects by way of negligence can often be shown using res ipsa loquitur because the defects by definition occur due to the acts of the manufacturer. Plaintiffs may also recover based upon an implied warranty of merchantability, which implies that every product is suitable for its intended use. Unless the implied warranty was waived, a plaintiff can prove breach of the implied warranty by showing that the parties were in privity and the defective product is not of an average quality or generally able to serve the purpose described by the manufacturer.
[Last updated in August of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]