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In the context of products liability, the basic elements of a negligence cause of action apply: (1) a duty of care toward the plaintiff; (2) breach of that duty (or negligence); and (3) proximate cause. The plaintiff also must establish that the product was defective or unreasonably dangerous.
While walking down a street with friends, plaintiff Joseph Bryan Marzullo was shot by Lalainia Routh, age 17, with a Crosman 2100 Classic air rifle ("Crosman 2100" or "BB gun") resulting in serious injury to plaintiff. Plaintiff, together with his parents, sued defendant Crosman Corporation, the manufacturer of the BB gun, alleging that the gun was defective because it was designed with excessive muzzle velocity and because of inadequate warnings. Defendant moved for summary judgment.
The court held that the muzzle velocity of the gun was not a condition of the gun and, by definition, could not be a defective or unreasonably dangerous condition. If there was no defect or unreasonably dangerous condition, there could be no products liability action on the plaintiffs' muzzle velocity claim. The court also held that as a matter of law, the warnings that accompanied the gun were clear and reasonable. The warnings contained in the packaging materials and the owner's manual specifically stated that misuse or careless use could cause serious injury or death. Likewise, because the risk of serious injury from misuse or careless use of the gun was open and obvious, the manufacturer did not have a duty to place a warning in this regard on the gun itself. Therefore, summary judgment on plaintiffs' strict liability and negligent failure to warn claim was proper.