Leasing has become an increasingly popular substitute for outright purchases as a means of acquiring products for use. Few courts and commentators, however, have addressed the question of whether the principles of strict products liability which apply to sellers also apply to lessors. In this Article, Professor Ausness reviews the historical basis for imposing strict liability in tort on sellers and applies these rationales to five basic kinds of lease transactions. He concludes that strict liability should not apply when a product defect arises after the leased product is placed in the hands of the lessee (as contrasted with the more typical case of "manufacturing defects" which arise when the product is manufactured), nor when the leased product is a fixture attached to real property. In such cases, the lessor should be held to a negligence standard of liability. However, in all other cases, the rationales for imposing strict liability on sellers apply as well to lessors and support the imposition of strict liability upon these lessors.
Richard C. Ausness, Strict Liability for Chattel Leasing, 48 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 273 (1987).