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Hauter v. Zogarts

Supreme Court of California
534 P.2d 377 (1975)


Facts

Fred Hauter (plaintiff) played golf, but was not a very skilled player. Hauter purchased a “Golfing Gizmo” training device designed for all skill levels to practice. The Gizmo consisted of two pegs that stuck into the ground, attached at the top by an elastic cord. From the elastic cord, a golf ball hung on a cotton cord that was attached to the bottom of the pegs. The Gizmo box and instruction manual said the gadget was “completely safe” and that the “ball [would] not hit player.” The instructions also stated that if hit correctly, the ball would return to the initial point of contact, but if hooked or sliced, the ball would return off-center. Hauter set up the Golfing Gizmo according to the instructions. Hauter took a swing, was hit in the head with the ball, and was injured. Hauter sued the manufacturer of the Golfing Gizmo (defendant) for misrepresentation based in strict liability and breach of express warranty. Hauter testified to having read the instructions and safety statement before using the product. Hauter also presented expert testimony establishing that Hauter hit the ball from underneath and caught the cord with the shaft of the club, causing the ball to ricochet back at Hauter’s head. The jury found in favor of the defendant. The trial court granted Hauter judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The defendant appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Tobriner, J.)

Concurrence (Clark, J.)

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