The Doctrine of Comparative Fault Applies in an Admiralty Strict Products Liability Case
Fox, Lance C.
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The Fifth Circuit's decision in Lewis v. Timco establishes that in maritime personal injury actions based on strict products liability, principles of comparative fault are applicable to reduce the plaintiff’s recovery in proportion to the relative degrees of fault of the parties involved. This decision rests on the theory that comparative fault achieves a more just and equitable allocation of damages based upon the relative degrees of fault, and that it does not undermine the theory of strict products liability as it still holds the manufacturer strictly liable to the extent its defective product caused the injury to the plaintiff. This holding should help promote uniformity in admiralty law because it agrees with the only other circuit decision that has specifically addressed the issue. Furthermore, it should provide a logical basis for apportioning fault for future admiralty actions brought under products liability theory.