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Strict Liability: Products Liability & Abnormally Dangerous Activities

Strict liability is the one type of tort that does not involve fault: it doesn't matter whether the defendant has departed from a reasonable standard of care. The basis for liability is the creation of an undue risk of harm to other members of the community, regardless of how much care was exercised in undertaking the risk. Strict liability is divided into two main categories: product liability and abnormally dangerous activities.

Products liability includes those torts involving the liability of those who supply goods or products to those who purchase, use, or are coincidentally injured from defects in those products. It includes products that are in and of themselves dangerous and products that may not live up to what a customer was expecting.

Abnormally dangerous activities involve the keeping of animals or the use of land. In the seminal case of Rylands v. Fletcher, where a man's alterations to his property ended up flooding the neighbor's property, the court stated: "We think that the true rule of law is that the person who for his own purposes brings on his land and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it at his peril, and if he does not do so is prima facie answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape." This broad statement has since been whittled down to refer to "non-natural" conditions created on property, as opposed to the normal use and enjoyment of the land.


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