An injured party must have proper notice and must consent to a trial on the issue of the lessor's fault.
Plaintiff injured party challenged a judgment from the district court which was entered in favor of plaintiff against defendant manufacturer in his products liability action against the manufacturer and defendant seller. The judge allowed the jury to compare the fault of three phantom parties and the injured party in arriving at its verdict, which assigned only 13.5% fault to the manufacturer. The injured party was injured at work while using a push-pull jack created by manufacturer. The injured party alleged in his products liability action that the manufacturer and the seller were strictly liable for his injuries. At trial, the district court allowed the jury to compare fault of three phantom parties and injured party in determining liability. The jury assigned 13.5 percent fault to the manufacturer, no fault to the seller, and the rest of the fault to the others.
Whether the district court improperly allowed the jury to compare fault of the two phantom parties, a lessor and a crane manufacturer?
The court ruled that Kansas did allow comparison of fault with phantom parties in a products liability action and that the injured party had effectively consented to the trial of the crane manufacturer's fault. The court, however, ruled that because there was no evidence before or during trial on at least one element of a possible case against the lessor, the injured party did not have proper notice and did not consent to trial on the issue of the lessor's fault.
The court reversed the judgment of the district court and ordered a new trial on the grounds that there was no evidence that the issue of fault of one phantom party was tried by consent by injured party.