Reviewing Product Liability with the Nintendo Wii Recall of its Controller Straps

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In the weeks following its much anticipated release, the popular Nintendo Wii has had its fair share of bad publicity as a result of the straps on its wireless remote controllers allegedly leading to various personal injuries.

Nintendo has voluntarily recalled 3.2 millions straps for Wii console controllers, which detect 3D motion and are used as handheld pointing devices when playing video games.

With the twists and gyrations involved with playing Nintendo Wii video game simulations, the straps have allegedly broken and caused some users to strike their hands on television screens and consequently cut their hands.

In other instances, broken straps have reportedly caused users to lose control of their controllers, which have struck fellow players or onlookers nearby.

Nintendo has also recently issued a separate recall in Japan of 200,000 AC adapters for the DS and DS Lite because they may overheat and cause burns.

These free recalls by Nintendo are a proactive attempt by the company to avoid any personal injury lawsuits and provide an interesting look at product liability, an area of the law which holds manufacturers like Nintendo accountable for any injuries that their products may cause.

Product liability claims are most often made on design defects, manufacturer defects or a failure to warn. In this instance, the faulty straps on the Wii controllers are likely the result of manufacturer defects that Nintendo was not aware of, and thus the company would not have issued warnings with the November release of the system in the United States.

The Wii recall is unlikely to affect the soaring sales of this latest advancement of the video game console. 476,000 Wiis were sold in the U.S. during the month of November, according to the retail tracking firm NPD Group in a story at smartmoney.com.

While some customers may have gotten more than they bargained for with the Wii, analysts are expecting the new system to take 17-19% of the video game market in the next couple of years and make Nintendo a player again with Sony and Xbox.

November sales for the Wii already outpaced Sony's Playstation 3, which was released three days before and sold 197,000 units before experiencing shortage and production problems.


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