Use of Sample Surveys in Product Liability Litigation

01 August 2007
By Dr. Kent Van Liere

Product liability refers to legal claims in which an injured party may recover some type of monetary compensation from the manufacturer or seller of a product. In the US, the claims generally associated with product liability involve negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, and consumer protection. Product liability litigation arises from a range of circumstances in which a specific product or product use comes under scrutiny. Analysis of product liability claims typically involves determining how the product was used, what customers expected of the product, what representations were made to customers about the product, and the product's failure rate. Given the nature of the information required in these actions and the size and population of products and consumers, sample surveys can be an important tool.

In this article, published as a chapter in The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Product Liability 2007, NERA Senior Vice President Dr. Kent Van Liere reviews the uses of samples and surveys in product liability litigation, describes examples in which surveys played an important role, and discusses how surveys should be designed and implemented to produce reliable expert testimony. Dr. Van Liere then reviews the analytic framework used to quantify potential liability exposure in product liability cases in general; this framework can rely on estimated failure rates measured with a survey.

Published annually, The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Product Liability provides current and practical comparative legal information for general counsel, government agencies, and private practice lawyers.

This article first appeared in the 5th edition of The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Product Liability 2007; published by Global Legal Group Ltd, London (