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In MacPherson v. Buick Motor Company, an individual purchased a defective automobile from a dealership. A faulty wheel on the car led to an accident in which the plaintiff was injured. Though the wheel was not manufactured by Buick, the plaintiff sued Buick when it was discovered the flaw could have been found and remedied with an inspection. The New York Court of Appeals held that even though Buick did not manufacture the wheel (or, for that matter, many other parts of the car) it was still responsible for the car as a whole. This was the case even though the plaintiff was not in privity, or contract, with Buick (because the dealer had purchased the car from Buick and sold it on to the plaintiff.)
The facts of Thomas v. Winchester, decided in New York in 1852, also dealt with issues of liability. In this case a man purchased a bottle of what was labelled as dandelion extract at a druggist. Upon administering it to his wife, she became extremely ill, and it was determined that the bottle had been incorrectly labeled, and that in fact the bottle contained extract of belladonna, a dangerous poison. The druggist in question had purchased it from another druggist, who had purchased it from Winchester, and they were labeled as prepared by one of his employees. Because Winchester dealt in dangerous drugs and poisons, and knew that faulty labeling could result in death, he was liable for the damage it caused, even though the plaintiff purchased the drugs from (or was in privity with) a third party in the form of the druggist. The facts of the case are obviously very similar, as was the decision. Indeed, the court's decision in MacPherson expanded on Winchester by declaring essentially a company manufactured an item, it was responsible for its defects, regardless of privity.
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