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The law now requires a manufacturer to foresee some degree of misuse and abuse of his product, either by the user or by third parties, and to take reasonable precautions to minimize the harm that may result from misuse and abuse. The extent to which designers and manufacturers of dangerous machinery are required to anticipate safety neglect presents an issue of fact. A manufacturer owes a foreseeable user of its product a duty to warn of risks of using the product.
Jones T. Huynh, a welder, filed a complaint against Ingersoll-Rand (Ingersoll), manufacturer of a hand-held power grinder, under theories of strict products liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. Huynh had applied for a job as a welder, and his potential employer required him to take a welding test. Huynh was asked to use a grinder that had been fitted with a disc attachment by an employee of the potential employer. Shortly after Huynh began using the grinder, the disc "exploded," severely damaging one of Huynh’s eyes. In his action against the manufacturer, Huynh alleged that the grinder was defective in design and manufacture, and lacked adequate warnings. Ingersoll moved for summary judgment on the ground of product misuse, alleging that the grinder had been fitted with a disc not rated to handle the high revolutions per minute (r.p.m.'s) at which the grinder was capable of running. The trial court granted the motion.
Did the trial court err in granting summary judgment?
The court reversed holding that summary judgment was inappropriate because the supporting documents filed by Ingersoll did not rule out other defects in the design or manufacture of the grinder as a cause of this particular injury. The court held that a triable issue also remained as to the adequacy of the warning on the grinder and that this warning was an issue of fact.