McCabe v. L.K. Liggett Drug Co. Case Brief

Summary of McCabe v. L.K. Liggett Drug Co., [2000]

Relevant Facts: Pl requested that her agent purchase a metal coffee maker called Lucifer Lifetime from the df at its store. Pl’s agent went to the store and asked the clerk for the same and the agent was handed one off the shelf. The clerk placed in a sealed cardboard box for sale. Pl used the appliance two or three times and noticed that the water was slow in coming into the upper bowl. The next morning she again used it, complying with the written instructions. She waited for the water to reach the top so she could shut the gas off and remove the coffee maker. She looked over it and noticed the water was not coming up. It had stopped, and then it blew up in her face. The Pl was burned. Her attorney sent notice 3 days later of the impending claim. The sale carried with it an implied warranty by the seller that the appliance was coffee maker of merchantable quality.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the sale carried an implied warranty against defects in a coffee maker which caused an injury under ordinary use?

Court’s Holding: Yes

Procedure: After a jury verdict for the Pl; the judge entered a verdict for Df; Reversed.

Law or Rule(s): Merchantable quality means that the goods are reasonably suitable for the ordinary uses for which the goods of that description are sold, dependent upon its capability, when properly used.

Court Rationale: The evidence was sufficient to warrant a finding that the coffee maker blew up when used in the manner that an ordinary person would be expected to proceed in making coffee. The fact that the apparatus exploded showed that the pressure was not being released and in absence of explanation was itself evidence of a defective condition. If the coffee maker was so imperfect in design that it could not be used w/o the likelihood of an explosion, it could be found that the appliance was not reasonably fit for making coffee and therefor not merchantable. It could have been found that the defect in design would not be obvious to an ordinary person on inspection.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The coffee maker was not fit for the purposes for which it was sold and purchased.

Defendant’s Argument: The Pl did not inspect the coffee maker prior to use and thereby voided the warranty.

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