Consumer-Expectation Test Law and Legal Definition

Consumer expectations test is a test used to determine whether a product is negligently manufactured. The test is also used to determine if a warning on the product is defective. This test is commonly applied in product liability cases in the United States. Under this test, the product would be considered defective if a reasonable consumer would find it defective. It is also known as consumer contemplation test. Initially, it was the only standard authorized for determining whether a product was unreasonably dangerous. Critics considered the test to be too restrictive on manufacturers' liability. The risk-utility test is a test similar to the consumer-contemplation test.

The consumer expectation test applicable is generally defined as a test to determine whether the product's condition poses a danger beyond that expected by an ordinary consumer with reasonable knowledge. [Davis v. Komatsu Am. Indus. Corp., 46 F. Supp. 2d 745, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9712 (W.D. Tenn. 1999), aff'd in part, 225 F.3d 658, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 26547 (6th Cir. Tenn. 2000), rev'd in part, 19 Fed. Appx. 253, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 19830 (2001)]. In order to impose liability on a manufacturer or seller, the product in question must be shown to be either (1) "in a defective condition" or (2) "unreasonably dangerous." [Higgs v. General Motors Corp., 655 F. Supp. 22, 1985 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12146 (E.D. Tenn. 1985), aff'd without opinion, 815 F.2d 80, 1987 U.S. App. LEXIS 18076 (6th Cir. Tenn. 1987)]. The consumer expectation test separates defective products from the universe of ordinary products which may be involved in causing injury.