Liriano v. Hobart Corp. 170 F.3d 264 (2d Cir. 1999) While at his job at Super Associated, Liriano got his hand caught in a Hobart brand meat grinder. o The machine had been delivered with a safety guard in place, but Super had removed the guard. There was no warning on the machine that it should not be operated without a guard. Liriano sued Hobart, who brought a third party (impleader) lawsuit against Super. o Liriano claimed that Hobart failed to warn him of the danger. The Trial Court found for Liriano, and attributed blame to all three parties. (comparative negligence). Super and Hobart appealed. o Super and Hobart argued that there was no duty to warn, and even if there was, there wasn't enough evidence and they should have won on summary judgment. o Liriano had to sue the manufacturer because Super was covered by Workers Comp Statutes and was not going to pay for pain and suffering... The Federal Appellate Court certified the two questions to the New York Supreme Court: o The New York Supreme Court found that there was a duty to warn, but declined to answer whether there was sufficient evidence. The Federal Appellate Court affirmed the Trial Court's original judgment. o The Federal Appellate Court looked to the case of Lorenzo v. Wirth (170 Mass. 596, 49 N.E. 1010 (1898) where a person fell in a hole. The court in that case basically said that the plaintiff didn't really need to warn people to not fall into an obvious hole. However, the dissent in that case made a strong argument that even for "obvious" dangers, there are lots of special considerations, and you can't Project Wonderful - Your ad here, right now, for as low as $0 just dismiss the cases as a matter of law. There is an element of the fact-finder, no matter how obvious the danger seems. This dissent has become the general standard, and most courts are wary of taking the issue of liability away from juries. o There were numerous facts in this case that made the issue more complicated than, "don't stick your hand in a meat grinder stupid." For example, Liriano had only been on the job a week, didn't speak English well, and had received no instruction on how to use the machine. o In a way, you could say that Hobart's failure to warn people to use the safety guard made the product defective because the reasonably foreseeable risks of harm could be reduced by the provision of adequate warning. o The Court placed the burden on the defendant to show that its negligent failure to warn was not the cause of the plaintiff's harm, once the plaintiff proved that such failure greatly increased the likelihood of the harm that occurred. The basic rule is that a duty to warn is not necessarily obviated merely because a danger is clear. That's an issue for a jury to decide on the facts, and it can't be determined as a matter of law (hence no summary judgment). o Based on the consumer expectations test, you could say that since thee danger is obvious, how could the product fail to meet the consumer's expectation for safety?
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