Hank works as an operator of an ice-resurfacing machine. The
machine needed gas. The manufacturer has placed the water tank and the gas tank right beside each other. In addition, the two tanks are similar in colour and shape. Hank made the mistake of filling the gasoline tank with water. While filling the gas tank with water, some gasoline fumes escaped and reached a nearby heater, causing an explosion, which in turn caused injuries to Hank. Hank sued the manufacturer of the resurfacing machine for negligence.
Explain what Hank will have to demonstrate to prove his negligence claim. What arguments could the manufacturer make? You are the judge. Make a decision and explain how you reached your decision.
Would your answer be different if you learned that Hank testified that he was not confused by the two tanks being similar in shape and colour and being so close to each other?
1. Lambert v. Lastoplex Chemicals, 1971