Calles v. Scripto-Tokai Corp.

864 N.E.2d 249 (2007)

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Calles v. Scripto-Tokai Corp.

Illinois Supreme Court
864 N.E.2d 249 (2007)

KL

Facts

Susan Calles (plaintiff) left her 11-year-old daughter at home to watch her two three-year-old daughters, Jenna and Jillian. While Susan was gone, Jenna obtained an Aim N Flame utility lighter that Susan usually kept in the top kitchen cabinet and started a fire. Jillian died from smoke inhalation from the fire. Susan filed suit against Tokai and Scripto-Tokai (collectively, Scripto) (defendants), the manufacturer and distributor of the Aim N Flame lighter, for strict products liability, among other claims. Susan alleged that the lighter was defectively designed because it did not have a child-safety device, and such a safety device was available and would have reduced the risk of a child igniting the lighter. Scripto filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that of the two tests for determining whether a product is unreasonably dangerous—the consumer-expectation test and the risk-utility test—the Aim N Flame met the reasonable expectations of the consumer, and the risk-utility test did not apply. Scripto relied on a previous decision of the appellate court that held that the risk-utility test did not apply to products that are simple and if the risk of danger is open and obvious. The trial court granted Scripto’s motion. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s judgment with respect to Susan’s strict-liability claim, determining that the Aim N Flame was not a simple product exempt from the risk-utility test. Scripto appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Burke, J.)

Concurrence (Karmeier, J.)

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