Capitol Research Services of Texas > Reports

Products Liability


  • Senate Bill 4 (1993)
  • Chapter 82, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code
  • Report: 132 pages
  • Exhibits: 275 pages
  • Fee: $295 (Report downloadt)
  • Download the Report directly from the Capitol Research website

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In 1989 and 1991, products liability bills were passed by the Texas House of Representatives, but the bills died in the Senate.

In 1993, S.B. 4 was negotiated by several parties.

The Senate Research Center bill analysis described the background and purpose of S.B. 4 as follows:


Products liability law governs the duties of product manufacturers and sellers, and the rights of product consumers, where personal injury, death or damage to property (other than the product itself) are caused by the product. Products liability encompasses several types of claims, each with its own rules, including negligence, strict liability, warranty, and others. Except for a few statutes generally applicable to tort suits, products liability law has been developed by the courts on a case-by-case (common law) basis.

In some cases a seller who did not design, manufacture or alter a defective product may be held liable solely because that seller was in the product's chain of distribution. In those situations, the seller has limited rights to be indemnified by the manufacturer.

In cases involving an allegedly defective product, manufacturers may be held liable for manufacturing (unintended flaws) or design defects, or for failure to adequately warn or instruct. In design defect cases, jurors are asked to balance the utility of the product as designated against the risks of using the product.


As proposed, S.B. 4 contains statutory requirements in products liability suits that apply regardless of the type of claim being made. S.B. 4 would expand indemnity rights sellers now have by requiring manufacturers to indemnify them, regardless of the outcome of the suit, for all loses from a products liability suit where the seller was not at fault. Design defect cases involving FDA-approved AIDS/HIV and childhood vaccines would be eliminated. Design defect and failure to warn claims would be eliminated in cases involving common consumer products for personal consumption (including alcohol and tobacco), when the dangers are both apparent in the product and known to the ordinary consumer.

Under S.B. 4, to recover in cases in which a design defect is alleged, the plaintiff would have to prove two elements: (1) there was a safer alternative design and (2) the actual design was a producing cause of injury, death or property damage. The safer design must have been economically and technologically feasible when the product left the manufacturer's or seller's control.

S.B. 4 would require plaintiffs to prove in cases involving firearms or ammunition that there was a design defect and that the design defect caused the product to function in a way that would not have been expected by an ordinary consumer. Suits involving manufacturing equipment would have to be brought within 15 years after the sale by the defendant.

S.B. 4 passed the Senate. While the bill was considered on the Hose floor, the vaccine provisions were deleted and a change was made to the manufacturing equipment statute of repose. Unsuccessful amendments were attempted in the House and the Senate to remove the tobacco indemnity provisions.



  1. Tex. S.B. 4, 73rd Leg., R.S., Bill History Report (1993)
  2. Tex. S.B. 4, As Introduced, 73rd Leg., R.S. (1993)
  3. Tex. S.B. 4, Senate Committee Report, 73rd Leg., R.S. (1993)
  4. Tex. S.B. 4, House Committee Report, 73rd Leg., R.S. (1993)
  5. Tex. H.B. 373, 73rd Leg., R.S., Bill History Report (1993)
  6. Tex. H.B. 373, As Introduced, 73rd Leg., R.S. (1973)
  7. Senate Research Center, Bill Analysis, Tex. S.B. 4, 73rd Leg., R.S.
  • * As Filed (January 13, 1993)
  • * Committee Substitute (January 27, 1993)
  • * Enrolled (June 17, 1993)
  1. Restatement (Second) of Torts, §402A, Comment I (1965)
  2. U.S.C.A., § 300aa­14 (West Supp. 1997)
  3. Senate Staff Services, Hearings on Tex. S.B. 4 Before the Senate Committee on Economic Development Committee, 73rd Leg., R.S. (January 26, 1993)
  4. Senate Staff Services, Debate on Tex. S.B. 4 on the Floor of the Texas Senate, 73rd Leg., R.S. (January 28, 1993), Transcript
  5. Capitol Research Services, Hearings on S.B. 4 and Tex. H.B. 373 Before the House Committee on State Affairs, 73rd Leg., R.S. (February 15, 993)
  6. Capitol Research Services, Debate on Tex. S.B. 4 the Floor of the Texas House of Representatives, 73rd Leg., R.S. (Second Reading) (February 22, 1993)
  7. Capitol Research Services, Debate on Tex. S.B. 4 on the Floor of the Texas House of Representatives, 73rd Leg., R.S. (Third Reading) (February 23, 1993)
  8. S.J. of Tex., 73rd Leg., R.S. 137-138, 294-295 (1993)
  9. House Research Organization, S.B. 4 Bill Analysis, (February 22, 1993)
  10. H.J. of Tex., 73rd Leg., R.S. 455-456, 466 (1993)
  11. Act of March 4, 1993, 73rd Leg., R.S., ch. 5, 1993 Tex. Gen. Laws, 13.
  12. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §§ 16.012, 82.001-.002, 82.004-.006 (Vernon Supp. 1997)