A manufacturer of a product that proves defective, and which causes harm to consumers, is definitely legally liable, even if a recall has been issued. Whether negligience can be proven, however, is a more complicated matter.
There are legal distinctions between negligience and liability, and liability is generally easier to prove, but negligience in a case such as that involving a defective fan that melts and injures consumers could certainly qualify under negligience guidelines. Liability is a relatively easy standard to meet, because it simply entails demonstrating that the product in question failed. Negligience, on the other hand, requires demonstration of manufacturing processes that did not meet acceptable standards. As one online legal dictionary describes it:
"A manufacturer can be held liable for negligience if lack of reasonable care in the production, design, or assembly of the manufacturer's product caused harm. For example, a manufacturing company might be found negligient if its employees did not perform their work properly or if management sanctioned improper procedures and an unsafe product was made."
Proving that a manufacturer was negligient in the production of a consumer item is not easy, as the standards of proof are high. When hundreds of electric fans overheat and melt, causing injury to consumers, however, it is almost certain that improper manufacturing processes were involved, and that management of the company in question sanctioned those processes. In the end, only the findings produced during a civil trial can provide the answers in the case in question. That trial would likely include experts in the manufacturing of electronic appliances, including materials engineers who can speak to the physical properties of the plastics involved in the manufacture of the fans, as well as electricians who can testify as to the process used in wiring the fans. With hundreds of injured consumers, however, a finding of negligience, hypothetically-speaking, is certainly possible.