The Oklahoma Laws on Torts, Product Liability, and Consumer Protection

The Oklahoma Laws on Torts, Product Liability, and Consumer Protection



The Oklahoma Laws on Torts, Product Liability, and Consumer Protection


            The Oklahoma committee on uniform Jury instructions sought to reform two statutes, in the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which includes, the Okla. Stat. Title 12, §577.4 and the Okla.
Stat. Title 23, §61.2. The former statute deals with the jury’s instructions in cases where the damages awarded for personal injuries and wrongful death are not taxable. The latter statute imposes a $350,000 fine on losses that are non-economic for any personal injury. The committee that sat to have this discussion observed that there are some instances where the damages paid to the plaintiff for personal injuries are sometimes taxable. Additionally, there was a debate as to whether the Okla. Stat. Title 12, §577.4 was in gross violation of the separation of powers doctrine.

            The committee found the Okla. Stat. Title 12, §577.4 unusual since it only addresses the content of the Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions, instead of the law itself (Adams, 2015). Moreover, it also deals with federal income tax laws, instead of state laws, which are specific to the Oklahoma state. The statute appeared faulty it makes provisions for the awarding of taxable damages to the plaintiff, but does not address critical issues such as whether it is the defendant who is deducted the additional charges incurred by the tax. The committee therefore, proposed that the jury should first not be given any instruction on the awarding of the damages to the plaintiff, additionally; the instructions should only be given when the damages are nontaxable, and the trial court should be the body to determine which damages are taxable or nontaxable.

Product Liability and Consumer Protection

            The article on product liability and consumer protection first gives a brief origin of the Oklahoma product liability in 1974. In the Kirkland v General Motors Corporation, the plaintiff, was driving a new car, when the back seat dropped and made her hit a highway median then an oncoming vehicle (Allee, 2015). The court returned a verdict for General Motors, after the defendant claimed that the plaintiff was over speeding while drunk. In another case, Moss v Polyco Inc., the plaintiff was injured in a restaurant once a plastic container with drain cleaner fell and spilled the contents on him. The court observed that both nonusers and non-consumers should be protected and awarded recovery in case of a defective product. This case therefore provided guidance on who may or may not be a plaintiff in such a scenario. It was ruled that individuals directly physically involved in an accident, injured bystanders, or those with family relations to the injured had a right to the recovery of damages. This imposed product liability on manufacturers of goods, and provided consumer protection as well.

            However, the court made strict conditions in order for a plaintiff to have all the elements required in a product liability action and receive consumer protection. Firstly, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the product in question was the cause of the injury; a mere speculation does not hold any grounds. Secondly, he or she must prove that the product already had a defect. Either the defect must have existed, by the time it left the manufacturer’s control, or by the time, it was sold out to retailers for use by the public. Thirdly, the plaintiff must prove that the defect in the product created unreasonable danger to him or his property. These conditions are important for consumer protection. At the same time, product liability is hinged on the proof of existence of the defect.


Adams, C. (2015). Tort Reform and Jury Instructions. Oklahoma Bar Journal, 86(11), 822-830.

Allee, J. (2015). Product liability. New York: Law Journal Seminars-Press.

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