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Timpte Industries Inc. v. Gish

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Robert Gish (Gish) a truck driver, sued Timpte Industries, Inc. (Timpte), after falling into the top of the trailer despite Timpte warning that people should not climb onto the top of the truck.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    The user of a product will not survive a claim of negligent design when the use of the product is greater than the danger of the product.

    Facts.

    Robert Gish (Gish), a truck driver, was responsible for hauling an open-top trailer made by Timpte Industries, Inc. (Timpte). The truck was designed to be loaded at the top, covered with tarp, and had ladders at each end of the trailer in order to view the contents of the trailer. Although Timpte displayed warnings advising people not to climb onto the top of the truck, Gish used the ladder to climb onto the top railing of the truck and fell. Gish sued Timptefor the negligent design of the trailer, claiming that the railing Gish was standing on was too thin and the top two rungs of the trailer allowed people access to the railing on the roof of the trailer. Summary judgment was granted in favor of Timpte and the court of appeals reversed.

    Issue.

    Whether a user of a product will survive a claim of negligent design when the use of the product outweighs the safety of the product?

    Held.

    No. The decision of the court of appeals is reversed.

    Discussion.

    An ordinary person would recognize the risk of balancing on the top rim of a trailer in lieu of warnings by Timpte Industries, Inc. (Timpte) not to use the ladders to climb onto the top of the truck. The top two rungs of the ladder are not dangerous because they allow the users to balance if they if the user slips on lower rungs, and they prevent the ladder from twisting or bending. Gish’s injuries did not result from the ladders but his failure to follow the warnings offered by Timpte.


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