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Hardin v. Manitowoc-Forsythe Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
691 F.2d 449 (10th Cir. 1982)


Facts

Darel Hardin (plaintiff), an employee of Combustion Engineering (Combustion) was injured at work while using an allegedly defective push-pull jack. Columbus-McKinnon (Columbus)(defendant) made the jack, which was attached to a crane manufactured by Manitowoc Company, Inc. (Manitowoc). Manitowoc-Forsythe Corp. (Forsythe)(defendant) ordered the crane from its parent company, Manitowoc. Forsythe then sold the crane to Lummus Company (Lummus), a subsidiary of Combustion. Combustion was immune from liability under Kansas’s workman’s compensation scheme. Hardin sued Forsythe and Columbus under a products liability theory. The jurisdiction employed a comparative negligence framework for apportioning liability between plaintiffs and joint tortfeasors, including any “phantom parties” who may have been at fault but were not party to the suit. Before trial the court granted the defendants’ motion to consider the fault of nonparties. Moreover, Hardin deposed Malcolm Fell, an employee of Manitowoc Engineering (Engineering), who indicated Engineering knew that the jack might be used separately from the crane and took no safety measures. Hardin also called Fell as a witness and explored Engineering’s fault on direct and cross-examination. The judge instructed the jury, over Hardin’s objection, to apportion the relative fault of all parties and phantom parties: Combustion, Engineering, and Lummus. The jury found that Hardin had suffered damages of $150,000 and apportioned fault to Hardin for 20%, Forsythe for 0%, Columbus for 13.5%, Combustion for 45%, Engineering for 9%, and Lummus for 12.5%. As a result, Hardin was awarded $20,250 from Columbus. No judgment was entered against Forsythe or the phantom defendants. Hardin appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

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Holding and Reasoning (McKay, J.)

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