Crandell v. Larkin Case Brief

Summary of Crandell v. Larkin, [19**]

Relevant Facts: Mrs. Crandell, Pl, purchased a used Coronado clothes dryer from Larkin and Jones, Df (3rd party). The dryer had a tag affixed on it which described the machine as “Larkin and Jones Quality," which was “Tag-Tested," and “Guaranteed." Df, delivered and installed the dryer the same day as purchase. Two weeks later Pl asked her son to place a blanket in the dryer to dry. 15-20 minutes later smoke began to come through the furnace vents. Pl opened the dryer door w/ wet towels b/c flames were coming out the front. By the time the fire dept arrived the fire had spread to other areas. Total damges were in excess of $25,000. Fire dept personnel testified the sole ignition source of the fire was inside the dryer.

Legal Issue(s): Whether strict liability applies to cover the commercial sale of used clothes dryer?

Court’s Holding: Yes

Procedure: Trial ct granted a motion to dismiss products liability; Reversed and remanded entry of judgment in accordance w/ stipulated damage amount.

Law or Rule(s): One engaged in the business of selling or otherwise distributing products who sells or distributes a defective product is subject to liability for harm to persons or property caused by the defect.

Court Rationale: The Restatement neither expressly includes or excludes commercial sellers of used products from its coverage. Its coverage applies to “one who sells any product." The sale of used products may not be found to generate the kind of expectations of safety that are created by the introduction of new products into the stream of commerce. Used product merchants who rebuild or recondition goods are subject to the strict liability doctrine. The application of S/L to sellers of used products, who rebuild or recondition those products, helps to protect the reasonble expectations of consumers.

Expert witnesses prepared a report and testified that the clothes dryer was defective. The two thermostats malfunctioned, allowing the heat element to rise to temps high enough to cause the blanket to ignite. Coupled w/ the knowledge that a properly functioning dryer would not start a blanket on fire, concludes that the dryer was defective.

The fire occurred w/i two weeks of leaving the Df’s control. One of the thermostats became inoperative some time prior to the fire b/c of excessive wear. The wrong type of thermostats were in the dryer at the time of the sale. This establishes the existence of a defect while the product was in the hands of Df.

Plaintiff’s Argument: Pl did not tamper or misuse the dryer, the dryer had a guarantee issued by the Df who sold and rebuilt the dryer which caused an injury because of a defect.

Defendant’s Argument: There is no evidence to support that the defect was created by the Df and the pl assumed the risk by continuing to use the machine after it overheated once.

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