Troja v Black Decker Manufacturing Co Court of Special Appeals of Maryland 488

Troja v black decker manufacturing co court of

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Troja v. Black & Decker  Manufacturing Co. Court of Special Appeals of Maryland 488 A.2d 516 (1985) Rule of Law In Maryland , to overcome a directed verdict in a defective design suit based upon strict products liability, a plaintiff must show that, at the time the defective product was made, it was technologically and practically feasible to manufacture an alternative product incorporating the non-defective features.
Facts Robert Krohn hired Michael Troja (plaintiff) to build a bar. Troja borrowed Krohn’s radial arm saw manufactured by Black & Decker Manufacturing Company (Black & Decker) (defendant). Troja and Krohn removed the saw from its metal base and stand in order that it could be carried from the basement to the work site. The saw’s guide fence and metal base were left behind. Without its base, Troja placed the saw directly on the floor and rigged a makeshift guide fence by securing an aluminum level to the saw with clamps. Troja was attempting to make a cross-cut, guiding the wood with his hand, when the saw slipped and amputated Troja’s finger. The instruction manual accompanying the saw properly explained how to execute a cross-cut. Troja brought suit against Black & Decker for strict products liability. At trial, Troja presented an expert who would have testified that an alternative to Black & Decker’s saw could have been manufactured so that the unit would not work if the guide fence was not in place. The trial court refused to allow the expert’s testimony and ruled that Troja had failed to produce any legally sufficient evidence of an alternative radial arm saw design or the existence of the technology necessary to produce such a product in 1976, the year that the saw was made. The trial judge granted Black & Decker’s motion for a directed verdict on the defective design portion of Troja’s strict liability count and Troja appealed. Issue In Maryland, to overcome a directed verdict in a defective design suit based upon strict products liability, must a plaintiff show that, at the time the defective product was made, it was technologically and practically feasible to manufacture an alternative product incorporating the non-defective features? Holding and Reasoning (Gilbert, C.J.)
Yes. In Phipps v. General Motors Corp. , 363 A.2d 955 (Md. 1976), the court expressly adopted the rule proposed by the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 402A regarding strict liability. That section requires a court, in a design defect case, to weigh “the utility of risk inherent in the design against the magnitude of the risk.” Id. at 959. In some cases, the risk is “inherently unreasonable” and no balancing test is necessary, such as where a gas pedal of new car suddenly causes the car to accelerate. Troja argues that the Black & Decker radial arm saw was unreasonably dangerous because the saw was designed so that the guide fence was easily removable and yet continued to be operational. In Singleton v International Harvester Co. , 685 F.2d 112 (4th Cir. 1981), the Fourth Circuit held that in order for a plaintiff to survive a directed verdict in a design defect case, he must show that it was technologically feasible, at the time the defective product was made, of

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