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There is no duty to warn of an obvious danger.
Appellants came to the aid of a driver in need of assistance and appellant Bernard Cohen sustained an injury to his leg. Appellant Bernard Cohen was injured when he released the parking brake, and the vehicle moved backward. Appellants alleged that the car was defective and that the owner's manual was inadequate for failing to advise the reader to place the car in park to utilize the foot brake when manually disengaging the emergency brake. Appellants filed an action for personal injuries based upon strict liability, breach of implied warranty of reasonable fitness for use, and negligence against appellee General Motors Corporation. The district court granted summary judgment to appellee corporation. Appellants sought review of the judgment.
Did the district court err in granting summary judgment in favor of appellee corporation?
The court noted that the counts in strict liability and implied warranty were premised on the existence of a defect and no defect was shown. According to the court, while it was true that the automatic brake release failed to work, the automobile designers anticipated this very contingency and provided an alternate manual release. The fact that a mechanical convenience malfunctions did not necessarily mean that it was legally defective. Moreover, the court held that the requisite proximate causation was not present. It was not the failure of the automatic brake release but the appellant's use of the properly functioning manual brake release which allowed the car to roll, injuring appellant. Thus the summary judgment was approximate on these two counts. Anent the issue on negligence, the court held that there was no duty to warn of an obvious danger, as in this case, when the danger of manually releasing the emergency brake while the car was running and in gear was obvious. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.