Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thought of the Moment: Strict Liability

Remember that little fiasco in the Prada Spring-Summer 2009 show? The ones that involved models trampling on the ground?

I'm taking an introductory business law class right now and we're discussing something very relevant to the Prada situation: product liability. Clearly, there is a potential lawsuit brewing here. But before we jump to conclusions, let's think of some questions to consider:

1. Does Prada have responsibility to manufacture safe products?
2. Are the platform heels defective?
3. Do models owe a portion of the fault for falling down?

The design of the shoes is probably defective.

Let's check out the elements involving product liability!

Rule: Strict liability involving defective products is when one in the stream of commerce sold a defective product which caused harm or injury. Remember that defective product liability attacks the product not the person or business.

Stream of commerce: Prada, clearly, is in the stream of commerce because it's selling said shoes. And so are the companies that manufactured the shoes and provided the raw materials for the shoes. Liability attaches when the defective product "left defendant's hands." So, Prada, the manufacturer and the supplier of raw materials can all be sued.

Products: A product is anything manufactured, mass-produced, processed or things sold in their natural state (e.g.: eggs, fruits, vegetables). The shoes are the product because it's manufactured and mass-produced by Prada.

Defective: Defective means the product is unreasonably dangerous when used in a foreseeable way as intended. In this case the shoes are somehow defective. Once the models strapped the shoes and walked on them (because that's what you do with shoes), a couple of models started wobbling and some fell.

The shoes were not produced below the manufacturer's standard (oh no, bad quality for Prada!), but the design of the shoes is probably defective. In this case, socklets or mini socks were worn with the platforms, and there is strong belief that it caused slippage. Oh and another thing, the height of the heels may be too darn high!

Injury and harm: A consumer or a third party (e.g.: the models) is harmed. For this situation there was no injury, but there was potential that the models' ankles could get sprained or broken.

So far, we have all elements covered. Unfortunately, liability can't be established mainly because there was no injury. Plus, Prada can defend that there was comparative negligence on the models' part. The models could have prevented the fall if they test walk (test drive?) the shoes before the show to see if they were stable.

Update: A strict liability lawsuit may not favor the plaintiffs, but a negligence suit could. Again, only if there was some sort of injury. That's how the courts in the United States work.

Wanna check out more model falls? CNN, of all things news-oriented, compiled a video! Watch it here.

Video from


abby | ybba said...

those are some crazy heels O_O like i guess it's also the distinct kind of walk that they do that makes it difficult for them. but man, nice line but it's hard to focus on the clothes when the model is about to trip on her butt any second.

Wenny Yap said...

It's so unfair to the models. This mean to say that only when a model falls and breaks her leg or something, then the legitimacy comes into play.

Frankly, I doubt any model would dare challenge for fear of lost in demand.

RicAdeMus said...

Good analysis! I guess without an injury, the consumer would only be eligible for a refund, not a lawsuit.

Presumably the models would have fallen during the test drive, had they taken the time. So I would be surprised if any fault could be attached to them regardless of any other factors. But the peculiarities of law are frquently surprising.

Pop Champagne said...

interesting. well on one hand prada can argue that only some of the models were having difficulties and not all. so they can blame them for their runway experience. personally I think those shoes are just impractical and would never buy them

Nico said...

wow, you guys are giving out so many opinionated views! rest assured, there are many ways to argue this thing.

Hopefully, a judge would favor the one who provides the most logical arguments and evidence.