Product Liability Litigation for Defective Stormtrooper Armor

The Empire’s Stormtroopers are emissaries of fear to subjugate civilian populations. However, Stormtrooper armor appears to have multiple fatal flaws for surviving blunt force trauma from melee weapons, arrows, and rocks.

Attackers with sticks incapacitated Stormtroopers on Jedha and Endor with blows to the head. Stromtrooper armor also was ineffective against primitive arrows.

Stromtrooper associations could sue the manufactures of body armor for defective design and possibly breach of warranty and fraud. In cases where fiber was sold to weaving companies who manufactured ballistic fabric, the ultimate manufactures of bullet proof vests were sued for body armor that had a 58% failure rate against bullets. See, First Choice Armor & Equip., Inc. v. Toyobo Am., Inc., 839 F. Supp. 2d 407 (D. Mass. 2012). Numerous police officer associations and local governments sued for design defect, breach of warrant, and fraud. See, S. States Police Benevolent Ass’n v. First Choice Armor & Equip., Inc., 241 F.R.D. 85 (D. Mass. 2007).

Imperial body armor appears in multiple divisions, with the main Stromtroopers wearing white armor. There are other armors that are similar in design, but with different colors for specialty of mission or deployment. These include, but are not limited to, the Death Troopers assigned to Director Krennic and Grand Admiral Thrawn; Scarif Stromtroopers; Cold Assault Stromtroopers seen at the Battle of Hoth; and Scout Troopers, seen at the Battle of Endor.

The Stormtroopers who were subdued with melee weapons on Jedha and Endor were the main line serving Stormtroopers. Scout Troopers were also pacified on Endor by Ewoks.

Stormtroopers suing for defective body armor would need to prove: that the armor did not perform as expected when used as intended; that the Stormtroopers were harmed; and the failure of the body armor to perform was a substantial factor in causing the Stormtroopers harm.

Head Injuries

Stormtroopers on Jedha and Scarif suffered head injuries with the walking stick used by Chirrut Imwe as a blunt force weapon. Stromtroopers and Scout Troopers on Endor also suffered head injuries from predatory Ewoks with rock axes.

If Stormtrooper helmets were supposed to prevent concussions from head injuries, the helmets clearly failed. These failures to protect Troopers from concussions were moments that ultimately resulted in the destruction of TWO Death Stars. If Imwe had not rescued Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, the original Death Star plans would have never been stolen and provided to Rebels. Moreover, if carnivorous Ewoks with primitive axes had not overrun Stormtroopers on Endor, the Empire itself would not have fallen.

The issue on manufacturer liability would be whether Stormtrooper helmets were supposed to protect the wearer’s head from blunt force trauma. If the helmets were for communications, air filtration, and data management, then the intended use of the helmets were not for protection from concussive injuries. That being said, the armor is supposed to protect Stormtroopers from projectile weapons. Why does it fail when the wearer is hit with a stick?

Different Versions of Armor

The armor worn by Death Troopers, Scarif Stromtroopers, and Hovertank Pilots, all have similar armor that appears different in color and helmet design. Cold Assault Stromtrooper armor is the most dissimilar to other Stormtrooper armor.

There is no evidence of any of these armors failing to protect Troopers from blunt force trauma from melee weapons. However, these Troopers could sue the armor manufacturer under specific conditions. If same ballistic fabric and armor plating was used in all Imperial body armor, the Stormtroopers severing in different deployments could join in a potential class action. Additionally, if the Imperial armor manufacturer had the same warranty printed on each type of armor, then all could join in a prospective class action.

The Doctrine of Fear

The Empire’s concept of governance was through fear. Whether it was fear of the Emperor, fear of Darth Vader force choking an admiral, or fear from destroying civilian targets, the Empire ruled by terrifying others. Moreover, Imperials showed little regard for their own service members. Governor Tarkin ordered the destruction of the base on Scarif, instead of sending Stromtroopers and Tie Fighters to destroy the Alliance Fleet and ground forces. Given the low level regard for life, it is highly likely that Stormtrooper armor was not designed to protect the lives of Troopers, but to instill fear in the civilian population.

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Josh Gilliland
Josh Gilliland is a California attorney who focuses his practice on eDiscovery. Josh is the co-creator of The Legal Geeks, which has made the ABA Journal Top Blawg 100 Blawg for 2013 to 2016, and was nominated for Best Podcast for the 2015 Geekie Awards. Josh has presented at legal conferences and comic book conventions across the United States. He also ties a mean bow tie.

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