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Barker v. Lull Engineering Co.

573 P.2d 443 (Cal. 1978)

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Barker v. Lull Engineering Co.

Supreme Court of California

573 P.2d 443 (Cal. 1978)

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Facts

Ray Barker (plaintiff) was employed as an operator of a high-lift loader at a construction site at the University of California at Santa Cruz. The loader was manufactured by Lull Engineering Co. (Lull) (defendant) and leased to Barker’s employer by George M. Philpott Co., Inc. (Philpott) (defendant). At the time he was using the loader, Barker was relatively inexperienced and was using the loader to lift timber in a manner and on terrain for which the machine was not intended. Barker was injured when he lost control of the loader and failed to escape falling timber. He brought suit against the defendants on the ground that the loader was defectively designed. Barker argued that the loader should have been equipped with seat belts and other safety mechanisms. However, at trial, it was shown that such devices, if installed, would actually make the loader unsafe. The accident was largely attributed to Barker’s inexperience. The jury entered judgment for Lull and Philpott after they were instructed by the trial judge that “strict liability for a defect in design of a product is based on a finding that the product was unreasonably dangerous for its intended use.” Barker appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Tobriner, C.J.)

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