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Welge v. Planters Lifesavers Co.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    A glass jar of Planters peanuts shattered in Plaintiff’s had while he was trying to open it. Plaintiff sued Defendants for recovery for his injuries. The trial court granted defendants summary judgment. Plaintiff appealed.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Under strict products liability, a seller is responsible for the consequences of selling a defective product even if the defect was introduced by a previous party in the manufacturing chain

    Facts.

    Richard Welge (Plaintiff) injured his hand when the glass Planters peanuts jar he was trying to close shattered in his hand. He then sued Planters Lifesavers Co., the manufacturer and K-Mart (Defendants), the seller. At trial Plaintiff testified that he did not previously damage the jar and he was using it how it was meant to be used. Experts agreed that the jar was defective, however, could not determine where the defect was or when in the process it occurred. The district court granted Defendants summary judgment because Plaintiff did not exclude other possible causes other than the defect.

    Issue.

    Whether a seller is responsible for the consequences of selling a defective product even if the defect was introduced by a previous party in the manufacturing chain.

    Held.

    Yes. The trial court’s grant for summary judgment is reversed. Under strict products liability, a seller is responsible for injuries caused by a defective product seller sold even if the defect was introduced by a previous party in the manufacturing chain.

    Discussion.

    Plaintiff does not need to prove which seller in the manufacturing chain caused the defect nor is it necessary to exclude every possibility, however fantastic or remote, that the defect which led to the accident was caused by someone other than one of the defendants.Additionally, evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the appellant on review of summary judgment.


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