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Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, Inc.

Supreme Court of California

January 24, 1963

L. A. No. 26976


 [*59]  [**898]  [***698]    Plaintiff brought this action for damages against the retailer and the manufacturer of a Shopsmith, a combination power tool that could be used as a saw, drill, and wood lathe. He saw a Shopsmith demonstrated by the retailer and studied a brochure prepared by the manufacturer. He decided he wanted a Shopsmith for his home workshop,  [****2]  and his wife bought and gave him one for Christmas in 1955. In 1957 he bought the necessary attachments to use the Shopsmith as a lathe for turning a large piece of wood he wished to make into a chalice. After he had worked on the piece of wood several times without difficulty, it suddenly flew out of the machine and struck him on the forehead, inflicting serious injuries. About 10 1/2 months later, he gave the retailer and the manufacturer written notice of claimed breaches of warranties and filed a complaint against them alleging such breaches and negligence.

After a trial before a jury, the court ruled that there was no evidence that the retailer was negligent or had breached any express warranty and that the manufacturer was not liable for the breach of any implied  [**899]   [***699]  warranty. Accordingly, it submitted to the jury only the cause of action alleging breach of implied warranties against the retailer and the causes of action alleging negligence and breach of express warranties against the manufacturer. The jury returned a verdict for the retailer against plaintiff and for plaintiff against the manufacturer in the amount of $ 65,000. The trial court denied [****3]  the manufacturer's motion for a new trial and  [*60]  entered judgment on the verdict. The manufacturer and plaintiff appeal. Plaintiff seeks a reversal of the part of the judgment in favor of the retailer, however, only in the event that the part of the judgment against the manufacturer is reversed.

Plaintiff introduced substantial evidence that his injuries were caused by defective design and construction of the Shopsmith. His expert witnesses testified that inadequate set screws were used to hold parts of the machine together so that normal vibration caused the tailstock of the lathe to move away from the piece of wood being turned permitting it to fly out of the lathe. They also testified that there were other more positive ways of fastening the parts of the machine together, the use of which would have prevented the accident. The jury could therefore reasonably have concluded that the manufacturer negligently constructed the Shopsmith. The jury could also reasonably have concluded that statements in the manufacturer's brochure were untrue, that they constituted express warranties, 1 and that plaintiff's injuries were caused by their breach.

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59 Cal. 2d 57 *; 377 P.2d 897 **; 27 Cal. Rptr. 697 ***; 1963 Cal. LEXIS 140 ****; 13 A.L.R.3d 1049

WILLIAM B. GREENMAN, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. YUBA POWER PRODUCTS, INC., Defendant and Appellant; THE HAYSEED, Defendant and Respondent

Prior History:  [****1]  APPEALS from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County. Robert W. Conyers, Judge.

Action by buyer's donee of a power tool for breach of express and implied warranties and for personal injuries sustained while using the power tool.

Disposition: Affirmed. Judgment for plaintiff against defendant manufacturer and for defendant retailer against plaintiff, affirmed.


manufacturer, warranty, notice, retailer, sales, Consumer, seller, express warranty, strict liability, cause of action, brochure, products, machine, parties, buyer

Business & Corporate Compliance, Remedies, Buyer's Damages & Remedies, General Overview, Contracts Law, Breach, Excuse & Repudiation, Acceptance of Goods, Torts, Products Liability, Theories of Liability, Breach of Warranty, Contracts Law, Breach, Sales of Goods, Warranties, Governments, Agriculture & Food, Distribution, Processing & Storage, Strict Liability, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Express Warranties, Commercial Law (UCC), Contract Provisions, Types of Commercial Transactions, Types of Contracts, Types of Defects, Design Defects