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67 Calif. L. Rev. 435 (1979)
Understanding Products Liability

handle is hein.journals/calr67 and id is 449 raw text is: California Law Review
VOL. 67                           MAY 1979                               No. 3
Foreword: Understanding Products
Gary T. Schwartzt
Unquestionably, products liability ranks as one of the most con-
spicuous legal phenomena of the last twenty years,I and the California
Supreme Court has played a leading role in the elucidation of products
liability doctrine. In Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, Inc. ,2 decided
in 1963, the court first ruled that manufacturers are subject to strict
liability for injuries resulting from defective products. In its Cronin
decision nine years later3 the court reemphasized the defect prereq-
uisite for strict liability, but rejected the Restatement's unreasonably
dangerous gloss on defect,4 thereby leaving the defect concept in a
rather barren state. In Barker v. Lu//Engineering Co.,' decided in Jan-
uary 1978, a unanimous court finally attempted an explication of de-
fect. The court noted (as have others) that product defects can be
classed under three headings: manufacturing defects, design de-
fects, and defects involving inadequate warnings or instructions accom-
t Professor of Law, University of California, Los Angeles. B.A. 1962, Oberlin College;
J.D. 1966, Harvard University. A much earlier version of this Foreword was submitted as a report
to the California Legislature's Joint Committee on Tort Liability. In preparing that report and
this Foreword, I spoke to about twenty experienced products lawyers in California: to them, my
thanks. My appreciation of products liability theory has filtered through conversations with Cali-
fornia colleagues like Professors William Cohen, Robert Ellickson, and Edmund Ursin.
1. Consider, for example, three law review symposia published during 1977-78: Symposiunm
1977 Products Liability Institute, 10 IND. L. REv. 755 (1977); Symposium: Product Liability, 29
MERc. L. REv. 373 (1978); Symposium on Products Liability Law: The Needfor Statutory Reform,
56 N.C.L. REV. 625 (1978). By now, the literature on products liability is voluminous; in this
Foreword, it is cited selectively.
2. 59 Cal. 2d 57, 377 P.2d 897, 27 Cal. Rptr. 697 (1963).
3. Cronin v. J.B.E. Olson Corp., 8 Cal. 3d 121, 501 P.2d 1153, 104 Cal. Rptr. 433 (1972).
4. RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF ToRTs § 402A (1965).
5. 20 Cal. 3d 413, 573 P.2d 443, 143 Cal. Rptr. 225 (1978).

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