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Camacho v. Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Camacho (Plaintiff) brought a product liability action against Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (Defendant), claiming that Defendant should have installed leg guards that would have prevented his injuries in a motorcycle accident.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    In a products liability action, the determination of whether the danger posed by a product was within an ordinary consumer’s contemplation is not relevant.

    Facts.

    Plaintiff was involved in a motorcycle accident and suffered severe leg injuries. He sued Defendant, claiming that the company should have installed leg guards on its motorcycles. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the claim, ruling that, as a matter of law, the danger presented by the motorcycle was within the contemplation of the ordinary consumer. The court of appeals affirmed and the Colorado Supreme Court granted review.

    Issue.

    In a products liability action, is the determination of whether the danger posed by a product was within an ordinary consumer’s contemplation be relevant?

    Held.

    (Kirshbaum, J.) No. In a products liability action, the determination of whether the danger posed by a product was within an ordinary consumer’s contemplation is not relevant. Products liability suits focus on the product itself, not the consumer or the manufacturer. The appropriate test to apply in such a suit is whether the product is unreasonably dangerous when used in the intended manner. This test includes an analysis of many factors, such as the usefulness of the product and a cost-benefit analysis of additional safeguards. This analysis requires an examination of the facts of the case and is usually left to the jury. The motion for summary judgment was erroneously granted. Reversed and remanded.

    Dissent.

    (Vollack, J.) The consumer expectation test is appropriate for actions involving common consumer products.

    Discussion.

    The “unreasonably dangerous†test is the standard applied to defective design suits. § 402A of the Restatement of Torts adopts this approach as well. However, not all jurisdictions use this test. In Cronin v. J.B.E. Olson Corp., 8 Cal. 3d 121 (1972), the California Supreme Court held that a product defect did not have to make the product unreasonably dangerous for strict liability to apply. For the most part, states follow the Restatement approach over Cronin.


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