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Baxter v. Ford Motor Co

    Brief Fact Summary. The Appellant, Baxter’s (Appellant), eye was injured when the windshield of his car shattered. Appellant claimed that the trial court improperly excluded evidence in printed materials produced by the Respondent, Ford Motor Company (Respondent), claiming that the windshield was shatterproof.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Representations set forth by a manufacturer whose falsehood cannot be readily detected by a buyer may be relied on by the buyer regardless of an absence of privity of contract.

    Facts. The Appellant purchased a model A Ford form St. John Motors, a Ford dealer, who had purchased the automobile from the Respondent. Appellant claims that representations were made to him by both the dealer and the manufacturer that the windshield of the automobile was made of glass that would not shatter. Respondent’s windshield was struck by a pebble, causing small pieces of glass to fly into his eye, resulting in the loss of his left eye and injuries to the sight of his right eye. The court took the case from the jury and entered judgment in favor of the dealer and the Defendant.

    Issue. Did the trial court correctly refuse to admit evidence against Respondent of catalogues and printed materials regarding the quality of glass used in the windshield of Appellant’s car?

    Held. No. Judgment reversed.
    * Appellant was provided with materials created by Respondent that claimed the windshield was made of shatter-proof glass. Respondent claims there can be no implied or express warranty derived from these materials because there is no privity of contract between Respondent and Appellant.
    * This case is similar to cases where plaintiffs have prevailed in suits for being supplied with wrongly labeled drugs. In both cases, the injured party would be unable to discover the inherent problem with the product. The advent of radio and other marketing materials have rendered the rule of caveat emptor unfair in many instances. To permit a manufacturer to create demand for its product by representing they possess qualities that they in fact do not, while barring recovery due to a lack of privity is unjust. The court held that the printed matters were improperly excluded and that Appellant had a right to rely upon these representations even without privity of contract between Appellant and Respondent.

    Discussion. The advent of modern advertising methods have made the traditional rule of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) unjust because of the unequal position of manufacturers and buyers.


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