facts: In this case, the plaintiff, Phillips, was a sanding machine operator who was injured when he fed fiberboard of varying sizes into a machine that had been purchased by his employer, Pope and Talbot Company, from Kimwood Machine Co., the defendant. The machine spit out one of the pieces and the board struck the plaintiff in the abdomen, injuring him.
The plaintiff alleged that the machine was defective and unreasonably dangerous because there were no safety devices to protect the person feeding the machine from the kickback of fiberboard sheets. The trial court found for the defendant, Kimwood Machine Co., on the grounds that the sanding machine was not unreasonably dangerous. The plaintiff, Phillips, appealed.
legal issue presented: Is the seller of a product (in this case, Kimwood Machine Co.) strictly liable for selling a product knowing of the risk of injury it involves?
rule of law applied: This case cites the commonly used case-law definition of a "dangerously defective article": "one which a reasonable person would not put into the stream of commerce if he had knowledge of its harmful character" (p. 492).
conclusion: The court found that, based on the reasonable person standard, the argument that the sanding machine was unreasonably dangerous was legitimate. Evidence showed that, at a relatively small expense, the defendant, Kimwood Machine Co., could have modified the device so that boards would not be kicked back out of the machine. Furthermore, the defendant did have such a device on a smaller sander. The case was remanded back to the trial court for a new trial utilizing the rule of law stated above.