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New York Court Agrees that Summary Judgment to Manufacturer of Mixer-Grinder Was Appropriate in Butcher’s Product Liability Case

A Syracuse product liability case may involve one defendant, two defendants, or a long list of defendants. There may be a single theory of liability, or there may be multiple claims involving a myriad of legal theories.

One thing that is common to all product liability claims is that they demand an appropriate amount of time and attention in order to be successful; product makers fight hard against a finding of liability! A primary reason for this is the fear of manufacturers and others in the supply chain that, if one plaintiff is successful, it may open a floodgate to additional claims, potentially costing the business millions of dollars in payouts.

Therefore, defendants in these types of cases are typically very aggressive in their efforts to avoid being held liable for injuries caused by allegedly defective products. Often, this process includes a motion for summary judgment attempting to get the case dismissed before it reaches the consideration of a jury.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was a butcher who was hurt at work while cleaning a mixer-grinder. He filed suit in the Supreme Court for Bronx County against the defendant, the manufacturer of the allegedly defective mixer-grinder, asserting a claim for product liability. The manufacturer moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it was not liable for the butcher’s injuries due to a post-sale modification of the product that had allegedly disabled the safety system. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the manufacturer, and the butcher appealed.

Opinion of the Intermediate Appellate Tribunal

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the lower court’s order granting summary judgment to the manufacturer. In so holding, the appellate division noted that the manufacturer’s expert witness had opined that the device in question had been made to industry standards, complete with a magnetic interlock system, but that someone had rewired the device to bypass the lock. Under New York law, a manufacturer could not be held liable in situations in which a plaintiff was hurt because of a substantial product modification such as the one that happened here.

The court noted that the plaintiff’s expert had no background in the type of device at issue, presented no evidence that would have created a triable issue of fact regarding the modification of the mixer-grinder, and offered merely a “conclusory” opinion that did not make any references to industry standards or alternative designs.

Contact an Attorney About a Product Injury Case

From the cars that we drive to the toys our kids play with, to the machines we use in the workplace, there are many different types of defective products. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a product that you believe was unreasonably dangerous, you should talk to a lawyer about filing a claim against the maker or seller of the product. Keep in mind that there is a limited time for taking legal action in a Syracuse product liability case, so it is important to talk to a lawyer about your situation as soon as possible so that the necessary paperwork can be filed in a timely fashion. For a free consultation, call the attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP today at 315-479-9000.

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