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Bic Pen Corp. v. Carter

346 S.W.3d 533 (2011)

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Bic Pen Corp. v. Carter

Supreme Court of Texas

346 S.W.3d 533 (2011)

Facts

When Brittany Carter (plaintiff) was six years old, her brother Jonas, who was five years old, lit her dress on fire with a lighter manufactured by Bic Pen Corporation (Bic) (defendant). Carter brought a manufacturing-defect suit against Bic. The Bic lighter was not designed to be childproof, but rather had five components designed to make it child resistant. Thus, even a lighter manufactured perfectly within Bic’s design specifications could still be operated by a small percentage of children. Carter presented evidence that two of the five child-resistant components in the lighter at issue deviated slightly from design specifications. Witnesses discussed several human abilities, some cognitive based and some force based, that would enable a child to operate a Bic lighter. The two design components in Carter’s lighter that deviated from manufacturing specifications involved the amount of force required to operate the lighter. Carter presented evidence that Jonas was cognitively delayed, but presented no evidence with respect to any deficiency in Jonas’s physical abilities. The trial court found that the lighter did not meet manufacturing specifications, and found in favor of Carter. The court of appeals affirmed. Bic appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Johnson, J.)

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