When the failure of a smart product leads to a fire, the challenge of how smart home applications should be evaluated and examined as a potential cause becomes a more complex undertaking than the failure of a similar but dumb product.
Lawyers who defend manufacturers in product liability fire losses will likely be the first to challenge expert findings from a fire scene investigation and laboratory analysis of evidence and artifacts collected post-fire if IoT-connected products found at the scene are not addressed in a way that takes into account the new complexities and vulnerabilities. In particular, the ability to ”rule out” an IoT product rather than point to it as a cause may be more problematic if the investigator and experts retained to conduct the cause and origin investigation fundamentally do not understand the complexity of the smart products − or until the standards catch up with the technology.
Michael O’Brien is a Partner in Wilson Elser’s New York Metro offices. He is co-chair of the firm’s Product Liability practice and a member of the Data Privacy & Security practice. With more than 30 years of experience in product liability defense, Michael focuses on representing U.S.and Asia-based manufacturers and distributors as national counsel in litigation, pre-suit investigations and class actions. He also advises clients on reporting obligations to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and counsels them on voluntary recall issues.