Klein v. Pyrodyne Corp. Case Brief

Summary of Klein v. Pyrodyne Corp. (1991) Pg. 646, 117 Wash. 2d 1, 810 P.2d 917 (1991)

Parties: Appellee – Plaintiff – Klein

Appellant – Defendant – Pyrodyne

 

Court: Supreme Court of Washington, 1991

 

Facts: Pyrodyne was conducting a public fireworks display for the July 4th, 1987 celebration. During the fireworks show, 5-inch fireworks mortars were knocked into a horizontal position, ignited and fired in their direction and went off into a crowd of onlookers. The Kleins were seriously injured as result where Mr. Klein’s clothes were set on fire, suffered facial burns, and serious injury to his eyes.

Procedural

Posture: TC – denied Pyrodyne’s motion for summary judgment, and granted summary judgment in favor of the Kleins. The court held Pyrodyne strictly liable without fault.

 

MC – certified case to the Supreme Court

 

Issue: Are pyrotechnicians held strictly liable for damages caused by fireworks displays?

 

Judgment: Affirmed TC’s decision that Pyrodyne is strictly liable for the July 1987 fireworks display.

Holding: The court examined strict liability and determined it could be imposed if the party was carrying on an “abnormally dangerous activity", and if so, they were held strictly liable for damages. In this case, the court determined that the fireworks display satisfied 4 of 6 conditions, and held that the fireworks display is an abnormally dangerous activity justifying imposition of strict liability.

Relevant

Rule: Abnormally Dangerous Activity (Factors for Strict Liability)

1. existence of a high degree of risk of some harm to the person, land or chattels of others.

2. likelihood that the harm that results from it will be great.

3. inability to eliminate the risk by the exercise of reasonable care

4. extent to which the activity is not a matter of common usage

5. inappropriateness of the activity to the place where it is carried on

6 extent to which its value to the community is outweighed by its dangerous attributes



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