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Since the mid-nineteenth century, products liability law has undergone significant modifications. The applicable doctrine has oscillated between contract and tort theories; fault and no-fault liability schemes have competed for predominance. Despite attempts to create an internationally accepted liability norm, different legal systems continue to espouse differing perceptions of the liability formula in the products area. In addition, even in jurisdictions in which courts adhere to identical liability theories, there is disagreement as to the application and implications of the same standard. This article attempts to set the shifting doctrinal character of products liability analysis into a comparative perspective principally between common law and civil law systems.

After assessing English and American law, this article attempts to integrate and evaluate Louisiana decisional law on products liability to ascertain whether the Louisiana experimentation sheds new light on the policy dilemma that is embedded in the ongoing products liability debate.