The judge criticised the absence of a recall of a clearly dangerous product.
"Clearly lives are at risk because of this defect. I wonder was it a decision of some desk-bound 'bean-counter' to save costs by not ordering a recall," Mr Justice Paul Butler said.
"I think it is important that it be established whether or not the same valve was used in other life-jackets."
The respondents, CH Marine of Cork and manufacturers Baltic Safety AB of Sweden, assured the court that the valve in question was no longer being made, and that none of the offending lifejackets had been sold since 2003.
Neither CH Marine nor Baltic contested liability for Mr Sweeney's death, but did contest the aggravated damages claimed by Mrs Sweeney on the basis of her post-traumatic stress disorder.
The two respondents are now likely to take legal action against the manufacturer of the faulty valve, Halkey Roberts Corporation of Florida, USA.