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Manufacturing of Faulty Products

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Manufacturing of Defective Products In his World War II play All My Sons, Arthur Miller tells the story of the Kellers, a suburban family that faces a huge dilemma when an incident of the past arises, and tears the family apart. Joe Keller, the father, had allowed twenty-one cracked cylinder heads to be sold to the United States Air Force for their P-40 fighter planes. These planes crashed in flight because of the defects on the cylinder heads, and killed twenty-one pilots. Keller then blamed the sale of the products on his neighbor, who was then sent to jail. The distribution of faulty products has been a problem with major consequences in business today. As American culture places vast emphasis on money and possessions, it seems that people will do almost anything to get their hands on a piece of the "American Dream". The consequence of a company releasing a product that does not work correctly affects the company, its employees, and the consumer. There have been numerous accounts of people being hurt or even killed by faulty products who then turn around and file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. Manufacturers have an ethical obligation to make reliable and safe products, and the effects of releasing a faulty product can be very severe to both the manufacturer and consumer.

A product can be considered defective if it does not perform its proper function correctly and efficiently, or if it causes harm to any person or anything that comes in contact with it. Many states have come up with their own products liability statutes; however, there are no federal products liability laws. According to the Legal Law Institute, products liability refers to the responsibility of any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of any product for damage caused by that product (LII, 1). At the top of the chain is the manufacturer of the component parts, then the assembling manufacturer, to the wholesaler, and at the bottom of the chain is the retail storeowner. If personal injury or injury to property is caused by the product, the victim may file a lawsuit against any part of the chain of manufacture. Lawsuits can be filed because of a company's negligence in assembly, strict liability, or failure to fulfill warranty.

There are three types of product defects that the manufacturers are responsible for: design defects, manufacturing defects, and defects in marketing. Design defects are potentially dangerous errors in the whole product line that are present in it before it is even made. Manufacturing defects are errors in the product while it is being constructed, such as inadequate materials. Defects in marketing are errors in instructions and failure to warn the consumer of the possible dangers in using the product. In a recent case, Firestone Tires, Inc. had to recall about 6.5 million tires due to a design flaw and the rubber manufacturing process in an Illinois plant. There were more than two hundred fatalities and over seven hundred injuries reported from a particular model of tires, which were used on Ford Motor Co.'s automobiles, primarily the Ford Explorer. Ford had recommended using a lower tire pressure and heavier load level than is safer for some particular models, which in turn were the cause of most of the accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration learned that both Ford and Firestone had already recalled the tires in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other overseas markets. After receiving much pressure from the NHTSA, Firestone recalled the tires, but then refused to expand the recall to other tires the government has linked to fatal accidents.

By manufacturing a faulty product that causes harm or death to a customer, the company causes much distress and anguish to the victim and those close to him or her. It can destroy families, along with severely damaging the emotions and stability of each individual affected by the loss.

The effects on a company if they are proven to have distributed a defective product that caused harm can be devastating. Depending on the severity of the results of the defect, the company may be sued for large amounts of money. For example, Donna Bailey, 44, of Portland, TX was paralyzed from the wasted down in an accident involving Firestone tires on a Ford Explorer. She filed a lawsuit against both companies wanting almost $90 million for physical and emotional damages caused to her by the defective tires. She won her lawsuit, and though the two companies did not have to pay the full $90 million, they still suffered a very large financial loss. The final amount Bailey was awarded was not released.

The company then not only must pay any lawsuit filed against them, but must also finance a recall of all defective products. The cost of the Ford and Firestone recall, in addition to the millions lost in lawsuits and court



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