Jacobson Presents as Panelist on Are Optional Safety Devices Truly "Optional?"


Whitfield & Eddy attorney Matt Jacobson was a panelist on the ALFA International Products Liability and Complex Torts practice group webinar on January 16, 2020 titled: Are Optional Safety Devices Truly "Optional?"

New technological advancements make powered pieces of equipment more useful and, in many instances, safer for use in many applications. In many cases, as an industry evolves, manufacturers present these new technologies to purchasers as “options.” This presentation explored the potential liability of manufacturers and dealers of equipment when new technologies are presented as “options.”

The presenters discussed the current status of the law and recent cases addressing these issues and practical guidance on how manufacturers and dealers may minimize risk. Questions addressed included:

  • can a product be defective for failing to make an optional safety device standard;
  • can the existence of an optional safety device be a defense to a product defect claim;
  • can a dealer be liable for failing to offer an optional safety device and under what circumstances might a manufacturer or dealer owe a post-sale duty to retrofit or warn?

Whitfield & Eddy is the Iowa law firm member in ALFA International, a global legal network with over 10,000 attorneys in 49 states and 70 countries worldwide. Jacobson is an active member in ALFA International and his litigation practice includes representing product manufacturers at state, regional and national levels. His practice also includes consulting with product manufacturers on issues relating to accident prevention, including formation of safety committees, performance of hazard analyses and composition of safety labels and manuals. He is a frequent speaker to product manufacturers on a biannual basis to address issues relating to production liability prevention and defending product liability lawsuits.

Matt is admitted to practice in both Iowa and Illinois, including the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa and the Northern, Central and Southern Districts of Illinois. He has also represented clients on a pro hac vice basis in Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Alabama, New York, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Louisiana, West Virginia, Oklahoma, California, Kentucky, Kansas, South Carolina, and Colorado. 



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