The Expansion of Consumer Rights 1916 US
MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co., Benjamin Cardozo (1870–1938)
MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co. – 217 N.Y. 382, 111 N.E. 1050 (1916)
The maker is responsible to make the product carefully if manufacturing carelessness is fairly guaranteed to cause harm, knowing that others may use it. Whether or not anything is thus harmful is an issue for the court at times and a jury at other times. The relationship’s proximity or distance is a consideration to consider.
Defendant is a car manufacturer. It made a car sale to a retail dealer. The plaintiff was resold by the retail dealer. The plaintiff was in the plaintiff’s automobile when it abruptly collapsed. He was hurt after being kicked out.
The spokes of one of the wheels collapsed into bits because it was constructed of substandard wood. The defendant did not make the wheel; it was purchased from another manufacturer. However, there is evidence that its flaws might have been detected with a reasonable check, which was not done.
Did defendant owe a duty of care and vigilance to any one but the immediate purchaser?
Because the wheels were purchased from a renowned manufacturer, the defendant was not exempt from the responsibility of inspection. It was more than just a car dealership. It was an automotive manufacturer. It was in charge of the final product. It was not permitted to advertise the completed product without first putting the component parts through routine and easy tests. The duty to examine must be tailored to the nature of the item to be inspected. The greater the likelihood of danger, the greater the necessity for caution. The defendant is held to a higher standard due to its relationship to the work and the nature of its company.
Judge Benjamin Cardozo, writing for New York’s highest court, sustained a jury decision of $5,025 for MacPherson in the first of four major products-liability cases in the twentieth century, and surely one that permanently transformed the economics of manufacturers’ responsibility. “Whether the defendant owes a duty of care and diligence to anybody other than the immediate purchaser,” Cardozo asked.
First Mandatory Seat-Belt Law (1984);
The Hot Coffee Case (1994).
The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)