Alabama Law Review
The past thirty years have witnessed the significant expansion and transformation of products liability law. While much of the initial confusion regarding the application and interpretation of Section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts has been settled, some problems remain.
One of these problem areas involves the allocation of liability for injuries resulting from the destruction, dismantling, and recycling of products whose useful lives have come to an end. In this situation, the law has evolved to provide a rule that imposes no liability upon the manufacturer. The courts have reasoned that individuals engaged in reclamation procedures are not users as required by the Restatement and additionally that such processes are not foreseeable product uses.
This position, however, is incorrect, and following explanation of the court’s misapplication of the rule in Johnson v. Murph Metals, Inc., an alternate position to that of the existing law can be suggested and justified. The underlying rationale of this alternative position is based upon a number of relevant factors and insights, including recognition that all products have a useful life and eventually reach a point where they should no longer be used. The only logical conclusions of these factors are that reclamation procedures are foreseeable and that manufacturers are in the best position to assume liability for injuries caused by these procedures.
Charles E. Cantú, The Recycling, Dismantling, and Destruction of Goods as a Foreseeable Use Under Section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, 46 Ala. L. Rev. 81 (1994).