Prosser’s The Fall of the Citadel

By Kenneth S. Abraham. Full text here.

William L. Prosser’s The Fall of the Citadel (Strict Liability to the Consumer) was simultaneously an analysis of the dismantling of the barriers to the imposition of strict liability for product-related injuries, an account of the sudden adoption of this form of liability beginning in the early 1960s, and a record of Prosser’s own intellectual triumph, since he had been advocating the adoption of strict liability since 1941. But in The Fall, as well as in the Restatement (Second) of Torts of which he was the principal author, Prosser did not recognize or confront what has proved to be the primary challenge to modern strict products liability: defining what makes a product “defective.” This Article analyzes The Fall and offers some explanations for Prosser’s apparent omission.