This working paper argues that commercial sellers’ growing information about, access to, and control over their products, product users, and product uses could significantly expand their point-of-sale and post-sale obligations toward people endangered by these products. The paper first describes how companies are embracing new technologies that expand their information, access, and control, with primary reference to the increasingly automated and connected motor vehicle. It next analyzes how this proximity to product, user, and use could impact product-related claims for breach of implied warranty, defect in design or information, post-sale failure to warn or update, and negligent enabling of a third-party’s tortious behavior. It finally flips the analysis to consider how the uncertainty caused in part by changing liability could actually drive companies to further embrace this proximity.
Bryant Walker Smith, Proximity-Driven Liability, 102 GEO. L.J. 1777 (2014).