Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Products Liability

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Products Liability

Article excerpt

Fertilizer Manufacturers Don't Make Bombs

In February 1993, terrorists fabricated a bomb from products manufactured to be used as fertilizer and tried to blow up the World Trade Center in New York City. They succeeded in causing massive property damage, six deaths and many injuries. But the owner of the building tried to use product liability tort law to pin the cause of the explosion on the manufacturers and reach into their deep pockets. The attempt was turned back by the Third Circuit in Port Authority of New York and New Jersey v. Arcadian Corp., 1999 WL 624590 (August 19).

The port authority sued three manufacturers of ammonium nitrate and urea, which, when combined with fuel oil or other sensitizing substances, can be rendered explosive. Separately, they are not explosive. The theories were negligence and products liability, the complaint alleging that the manufacturers knew or should have known from past events that their products could be used for explosives and should have taken steps to render the products non-explosive. The suit was filed in New Jersey state court and later removed to the New Jersey federal district court, which dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, stating that as a matter of law the defendants owed no duty to the port authority and that the bombing was not proximately caused by the defendants. 991 F.Supp. 390 (D. N.J. 1997).

Affirming, Judge Roth wrote for the Third Circuit that the "legal bounds of duty and proximate cause are aspects of tort law in which issues of fairness and public policy are particularly relevant." Finding no duty, the court said: "First the manufacturer of a raw material or component part that is not itself dangerous has no legal duty to prevent a buyer from incorporating the material or the part into another device that is or may be dangerous. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.