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Drayton v. Jiffee Chemical Corp.
United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
395 F. Supp. 1081 (1975)
James Henderson was unclogging a sink drain with a chemical product when the product severely burned his daughter, Terri Drayton (plaintiff). Henderson had been given the unclogging product by the family’s landlady, Mrs. Sorrell. Drayton and her mother (plaintiff) brought suit in district court against Jiffee Chemical Corporation (Jiffee) (defendant), the manufacturer of a product called liquid-plumr. At trial, Henderson, Drayton’s mother, and Mrs. Sorrell produced uncontroverted testimony that the unclogging product involved in the accident was liquid-plumr. The bottle that Henderson used was not produced at trial. Jiffee claimed that Henderson had not actually used liquid-plumr, but rather a competing product, Mister Plumber, which was mostly made out of sulfuric acid. To support this defense, Jiffee relied in part on Henderson’s testimony, in which Henderson stated that he placed a towel over the drain after he poured the product because he had remembered something on the product’s label about an odor. The Mister Plumber label warned of an odor and directed the user to place a towel over the drain to reduce the odor. The liquid-plumr label’s only reference to odor was a statement that the product contained no odor. Jiffee also argued that the rapidness and significance of Drayton’s burns were inconsistent with liquid-plumr’s composition, as liquid-plumr consisted of only 30 percent sodium hydroxide. This composition was less toxic than the sulfuric acid in Mister Plumber. The district court considered Drayton’s claims based on the evidence presented at trial.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Battisti, C.J.)
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