Troja v. Black & Decker Manufacturing Co. Case Brief

Summary of Troja v. Black & Decker Manufacturing Co., 62 Md. App. 101 (1985)

Facts: P’s thumb was amputated when working with a radial arm saw manufactured by D. P had taken off the guide fence and metal base from the saw when the accident occurred. P claimed that the saw was designed so that the guide fence was easily removable, the absence of a safety feature that would prevent the saw from running when the fence was not in place rendered it unreasonably dangerous.

Procedure: The trial court granted D’s motion for directed verdict on the defective design portion of P’s claim.

Issue: Did the trial ct. err by ruling that P failed to produce legally sufficient evidence of design fault?

Holding: No

Rationale : A court in a design defect case uses a balancing test where weighs the utility of risk inherent in the design against the magnitude of the risk. Some factors to consider: 1 . the usefulness and desirability of the product- its utility to the user and to the public as a whole, 2 . the safety aspects of the product- the likelihood that it will cause injury, and the probable seriousness of the injury, 3 . the availability of a substitute product which would meet the same need and not be unsafe, 4 . the manufacturer’s ability to eliminate the unsafe character of the product without impairing its usefulness or making it too expensive to maintain its utility, 5 . the user’s ability to avoid danger by the exercise of care in the use of the product, 6 . the use’s anticipated awareness of the dangers inherent in the product and their avoidability because of the general public knowledge of the obvious conditions of the product, or of the existence of suitable warnings or instructions, 7 . the feasibility, on the part of the manufacturer, of spreading the loss by setting the price of the product or carrying liability insurance. Some instances of risk are so inherently unreasonable that balancing test is not required. But the present action is not of such nature. In the current case, P’s expert witness just stated that D should have designed the product differently but does not offer any costs involved or the feasibility of such alternative design at the time the saw was manufactured. Therefore, the trial court was correct in granting the motion for directed verdict.

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