Risky Business: Liability of Product Sellers Who Offer Safety Devices as Optional Equipment

Richard C. Ausness


Manufacturers often offer their products in different grades of quality or provide some features as optional equipment. Motor vehicles provide a good example of this marketing practice. Typically, a consumer can choose from a wide variety of optional equipment and the difference in price between the ―stripped down‖ and the ―fully loaded‖ version of a particular model may amount to thousands of dollars.

This practice does not cause much concern when optional equipment, such as satellite radio systems or heated seats, merely provides more comfort or convenience. But what about devices, such as antilock brakes or side airbags, that actually increase product safety? Should manufacturers be allowed to produce and sell ―safer‖ and ―more dangerous‖ versions of the same product?

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