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Cook v. Downing

    Brief Fact Summary. Downing, (Appellee), sued her dentist, Cook, (Appellant), for breach of Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose. The trial court ruled in favor of Appellee. Appellant appeals the decision arguing that a dentist is not a merchant and dentures not goods; therefore Appellee cannot seek damages based on the Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Those who, for a fee, furnish their professional medical services for the guidance and assistance of others are not liable in the absence of negligence or intentional misconduct

    Facts. Appellant is a dentist who devotes less than half his practice to making and fitting dentures. Appellee, a patient, sued Appellant because of injuries allegedly resulting from ill-fitting dentures that Appellant had produced and fit. Appellant presented evidence that the injuries Appellee sustained did not result from the ill-fitting dentures. The trial court ruled in favor of Appellee. Appellant appealed arguing that any claim Appellee might have sounds in tort.

    Issue. Is a dentist a merchant and are dentures goods under the UCC?

    Held. No. Under the laws of Oklahoma, a dentist is not a merchant and dentures, furnished by a dentist, are not goods under the UCC.

    Dissent. The transaction of being fitted for and purchasing dentures is a hybrid of service and sales. The application of the U.C.C. implied warranties should depend on which is the predominant element of the transaction. The record contains evidence to support the conclusion that this was primarily a sale of goods and the dentures were not fit for their ordinary purpose. Therefore a prima facie case of breach of the implied warranty of merchantability exists. The court should affirm the trial court’s decision when there is competent evidence to support the judgment.

    Discussion. In Oklahoma, dentists, professionals regulated by the state, furnish dentures. The fact that Appellant holds himself out as specializing in the preparing and fitting of dentures does not remove him from the practice of dentistry and transform him into a merchant. However, a dentist could be sued for breach of contract if such contract were alleged to exist.


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