Smoke and Combination Smoke/CO Alarms

Smoke and Combination Smoke/CO Alarms by Kidde United Technologies


Product recalled: Residential Fire Alarms

Product models:

a. i12010S Combination smoke/CO alarm, manufactured on dates between December 18, 2013, and May 13, 2014

b. il2010SCO Combination smoke/CO alarm, manufactured on dates between December 30, 2013, and May 13, 2014

c. KN-COSM-IBA Combination smoke/CO alarm, Manufactured on dates between October 22, 2013, and May 13, 2014

Recall date: September 11, 2014

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Recall number: 14-275

Reason for recall: The alarms can fail to warn users in case of fire outbreak

Legal Analysis of the Above Recall


Given the quantity of items produced every year that affect peoples lifestyles, the government has stepped in through the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) to ensure users get quality products and value for their money. Companies, distributors, suppliers, and retailers are considered to be answerable for any injuries their products cause to consumers or third party users under the legal provisions on product liability. Manufacturers could also be accountable for injury under the common law of negligence or Consumer Protection Act (CPA) if a product or any of its elements are defective. This is despite any written agreement on limitations of liability. A legal action under the CPA or for negligence can be established if the defect in the product causes death and injury to personal or non-public property. No action will be used to compensate for consequential or pure economic claims.

1. Duty and Standard of Care

A claim in negligence relies on the idea that the Kidde Inc owes a duty of care to all or any people who will be expected to make use of its smoke alarms (Seaquist, 2012). In case of defective products like the recalled models, this duty of care is owed to consumers or third parties that are expected to use the alarms. Therefore, a claim in negligence in such a case is not restricted by the philosophy of privity of contract. According to Salin and Hooker (2001), privity of contract states that only a party to a contract can sue thereunder. If the defendant, Kidde Inc, had observed care in the production of the alarm systems in question, the plaintiff would not incur losses. However, the plaintiff (consumers) should prove that they incurred losses due to defections in the alarm system.

Standard of Care

Duty and standard of care are not limited to the manufacturer of the product alone as different people who supplied parts of the product may be held liable if proved to have been careless in handling it. The degree or standard of care is expected to be as high as goods are hazardous. This is because of the nature of expected use, i.e. detection of smoke and fire. The losses foreseen in case of a fire outbreak can be death, body harm, or economic losses.

2. Actual Injury

Regardless of the importance of negligence liability, it is subject to various impediments that may limit its effectiveness in product damage claims. Kidde United Technologies must be held liable when it has neglected to take sensible forethought, which injured customers must demonstrate.

Sometimes, the plaintiff can depend on the standard of 'res ipsa loquitur', implying that no clarification other than negligence can be the situation. In the event this applies, it depends on the Kidde United Technologies to demonstrate that it took enough consideration. In cases like this, it might be troublesome for the company to avoid liability unless it can demonstrate how the imperfection happened (Salin & Hooker, 2001). It is up to Kidde to demonstrate that it took reasonable forethought to secure an appropriate design for development and quality control to avoid defects and that its employees observed reasonable consideration while doing so.

If a defect is not a consequence of careless design, the plaintiffs position will be much weaker. Expert confirmation will be important to build a case on negligence. Courts may be hesitant to impose risk for careless design as this would include speculating on official choices on the relative cost and profit of distinctive design alternatives (Seaquist, 2012). A second trouble that confronts the plaintiff is the need to create a causal connection between the respondent's negligence and misfortune or harm. Then again, he would likewise need to do so if the case were under contract.

3. Defenses to Negligence

Nichols and Fournier (1999) observe that Under S.6 of the 1991 Act a manufacturer is liberated from the Duty under the Act in the event that one proves:

that one did not put the item into course;

that it is plausible that the imperfection bringing on the harm started to exist after the manufacturer released the product into the market;

that the manufacturer did not alter the item for personal gains;

that the item was not fabricated in the course of business;

on account of the producer of a part of the last item, that the imperfection is attributable to the design of the item or to the guidelines given by the item manufacturer.

If the harm is caused solely by a deformity in the item, provisions of the Civil Liability Act 1961 in connection to contributory negligence may apply.

4. Actual Causation

Causation is the "causal relationship between result and behavior". That is to say that causation gives a method for associating behavior with an ensuing impact, normally damages. In criminal law, it is characterized as the actus reus (an action) from which the particular damage or other impact has emerged (Seaquist, 2012). This is joined with mens rea (a state of mind) to embody the components of the blame. Causation is appropriate when a result has been attained and hence is unimportant concerning inchoate offenses.

5. Proximate Causation

One would want to ask: What caused consumers to incur losses?

It is fire that was started by certain elements in the building. Would the fire have been prevented if the alarms from Kidde Inc were effectively functioning? If the answer is Yes, Kidde Inc will be held liable.


A product must be unreasonably dangerous for its proposed use in order to reinforce strict liability on the manufacturer with effect to its design or production defect. The product must reach the consumer in its original form. Fabricated items are not subject to claims under strict liability clause. The manufacturer cannot be subjected to liability claim if no evidence is linked to the company. The items must have caused serious damage as courts do not tolerate triviality. Kidde Inc can invoke various defenses available under tort if sued by consumers. In addition, they have observed necessary requirements under the CPA by notifying the public of the defects and undertook appropriate recourse like replacement of entire alarm units.

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