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Law School Case Brief

Bowling v. Heil Co. - 31 Ohio St. 3d 277, 511 N.E.2d 373 (1987)

Rule:

The principles of comparative negligence or comparative fault have no application to a products liability case based upon strict liability in tort.

Facts:

Emma K. Bowling’s husband died when he was crushed between the chassis of a truck and the truck's dump bed. Bowling, as administratrix of her husband's estate, proceeded against Heil Company (Heil), manufacturer of the truck bed and hoist systems, in negligence and strict liability, and against Jake Sweeney Chevrolet, Inc. (Sweeney), seller of the truck in strict liability. At trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Bowling and assigned fault among Heil, decedent and Sweeney.

Issue:

Did the principles of comparative negligence or comparative fault have an application to a products liability case based upon strict liability in tort?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

On appeal, the court affirmed the verdict, but remanded to reduce the judgment against Heil based on the contributory negligence of decedent and rejecting joint and several liability. On appeal, the court reinstated the judgment of the trial court finding contributory negligence was not applicable to a strict products liability action and holding Ohio's Contribution Among Joint Tortfeasors Act, Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2307.31 and 2307.32, did not abolish the doctrine of joint and several liability.

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