Comstock v. Gen. Motors Corp.

358 Mich. 163, 99 N.W.2d 627 (1959)

 

RULE:

The fact that an intervening act of a third person is negligent in itself or is done in a negligent manner does not make it a superseding cause of harm to another which the actor's negligence conduct is a substantial factor in bringing about, if (a) the actor at the time of his negligent conduct should have realized that a third person might so act, or (b) a reasonable man knowing the situation existing when the act of the third person was done would not regard it is highly extraordinary that the third person had so acted.

FACTS:

Plaintiff claimant, a mechanic at a car dealership, was struck by a vehicle that had been brought in for power brake repairs when another employee forgot that the car had no brakes and accidentally drove it into the claimant, resulting in the ultimate amputation of his leg. Plaintiff filed an action for the injuries sustained against the vehicle manufacturer. The trial court held that the other employee's negligence proximately caused the claimant's injury, and that it was a new and independent cause which severed any causal relationship between the manufacturer's alleged negligence and the accident. Thus, it directed a verdict for the manufacturer. The claimant contested that decision. The court reversed and remanded the trial court's order granting a directed verdict to the manufacturer.

ISSUE:

Was another employee's negligence, as a matter of law, a superseding cause of an accident which insulated the manufacturer from liability?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The other employee's negligence in forgetting the car's "no brake" condition was not, as a matter of law, a superseding cause of the accident which insulated the manufacturer from liability. Further, the testimony pertaining to the brake failure and the defects in the model's power brake cylinder was sufficient to allow the jury to infer the manufacturer's negligence, and that the manufacturer had a duty to warn the purchasers of the model with power brakes when the latent defect was discovered.

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