This is the first of a six-part series on liability defenses that every inside counsel should know. Based on more than 30 years of litigation practice, I am going to discuss in this series the six liability defenses that I have found to most often result in summary judgment or dismissal for the defendant. They are the liability defenses with the most potential to end expensive and time-consuming litigation.
The first of these six defenses is the “component supplier doctrine.” I used this defense recently to obtain a summary judgment in a $23 million property damage claim against my client, a Fortune 100 product manufacturer. Litigation against manufacturers of complex, integrated products often includes claims by the plaintiff against the individual manufacturers of the many component parts. This is usually inappropriate. The component supplier doctrine narrowly defines the liability of manufacturers of component parts and can be used to obtain summary judgment or dismissal of claims that fall outside of its boundaries.