Jason Goodnight recently obtained an order granting summary judgment to a manufacturer who was sued in federal court for an allegedly defective brake press which crushed an employee’s hand, requiring partial amputation of the employee’s arm. Plaintiffs claimed the device should have contained certain safety features which would have prevented the accident and that inadequate safety warnings were given.
Plaintiff’s employer had purchased the press brake as “used” equipment, from a third party. It was not defective when it left the manufacturer’s control; rather, it contained safety features which would have prevented the accident. As for the alleged failure to warn of the dangerous characteristics of the press brake, Plaintiff was aware that he was not supposed to put his hands in the machine while it was operational. Because Plaintiff was aware of the danger, there was no liability for failure to warn.
In Oklahoma, a products liability Plaintiff must prove that the product caused the injury; that the defect existed in the manufacturer at the time the product left the manufacturer’s possession and control, and that the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous to Plaintiff or his property. If the material facts are not in dispute in a case, the court may grant summary judgment as a matter of law, without the necessity of a trial. In this case, briefs were filed with the court detailing the evidence, including testimony and exhibits. The briefs contained an analysis of the law as applied to the facts to prove that as a matter of law, Plaintiff would be unable to prevail at trial on his products liability claim. Since the essential ingredients of a products liability claim were absent, it was appropriate to avoid the time and expense of a trial by dismissing Plaintiff’s case based on the briefs.