products liability, choice of law, mass tort, lex loci delictus, lex loci delicti, most significant relationship, mass market, products, manufacture, injury, predictability, consistency


This Comment explores the complicated choice of law questions arising in products liability cases where the product in question is often produced in one state, sold in another, and caused an injury in a third. Which state's law will be used is often a highly contested issue among the interested parties to such a suit. Because of the lack of uniformity in the choice of law methodologies and the differences in rules of law among the states, decisions are often inconsistent and highly unpredictable. Predictability of law is especially important in the products liability context for identification of business risks in the marketing of particular products. This Comment analyzes two of the most prevailing choice of law methodologies: lex loci delicti and the "most significant relationship" rule of the Second Restatement of Conflict of Laws. It focuses on recent decisions coming out of New Jersey and Indiana and reveals how these decisions add to the inconsistency and unpredictability of products liability choice of law court decisions. The Comment argues that neither the First nor the Second Restatement approaches are entirely adequate to provide guidance to courts or to manufacturers of mass-marketed goods. It concludes that an approach that combines enhancements to the Second Restatement with federal preemption for certain types of products that are already heavily regulated by the federal government may be a more realistic answer to the question of consistency and predictability of court decisions in products liability cases.

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