Under modern tort law, the “strict” product liability cause of action does not impose true strict liability (liability without fault). This Article suggests that this counterintuitive development is not the byproduct of a policy choice. Instead, an unresolved doctrinal difficulty is responsible for the modern requirement that a plaintiff prove fault before winning on a “strict” product liability claim. The doctrinal difficulty is this: How can tort law impose liability on faultless product manufacturers while simultaneously preventing plaintiffs with fault from being able to recover under a true strict liability standard? This Article posits that both results are desirable—true strict product liability, but not for plaintiffs with fault—but that it is analytically difficult to assemble tort doctrine to get both results. Without a doctrinal solution that allows for both results, courts have (mostly) retreated from a true strict product liability standard. This Article offers a simple solution to this analytical/doctrinal riddle: Restoring the strict product liability cause of action such that it truly imposes liability without fault, while allowing defendants a contributory negligence (flat-bar) defense to this strict liability claim. Under this doctrinal change, plaintiffs without fault would be able to recover from manufacturers on a true strict product liability claim. Plaintiffs with fault, however, would be forced to pursue a negligence claim, meaning that their ability to recover would require them to show that the defendant also had fault. This doctrinal fix uses tools and concepts already familiar to modern tort law and is thus easily achievable. In fact, all that is necessary to effectuate this result is a simple, minor change to the current comparative fault jury instructions used in most jurisdictions.

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