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Using the Learned Intermediary Defense in Product Liability Lawsuits

In product liability lawsuits, the learned intermediary defense can be a crucial factor in determining the manufacturer's liability. This defense holds that the manufacturer is not responsible for informing the end user about potential risks associated with the product if there is an intermediary—such as a doctor or pharmacist—who can provide that information.

This defense can be particularly relevant in cases involving medical devices or pharmaceuticals, where the intermediary (such as a healthcare provider) is responsible for informing the patient about the potential risks and benefits of the product.

To successfully utilize the learned intermediary defense, it is important for manufacturers to provide adequate instructions and warnings to the intermediary, ensuring that they have the necessary information to communicate with the end user. Plaintiff's have attempted an end run around the learned intermediary defense, and have sought to avoid dismissal by arguing that the defense should be curtailed in contraceptives cases or considering that many users of pharmaceutical products now conduct online research, thereby making an argument that the manufacturer is selling directly to the end user.

It's essential for manufacturers to understand the nuances of the learned intermediary defense and ensure they have a strong case to defend against product liability claims. Working with a product liability attorney can be instrumental in navigating the complexities of this defense and protecting your company's interests.