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Jackson v. Coast Paint and Lacquer Company
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
499 F.2d 809 (9th Cir. 1974)
Sterling Jackson (plaintiff) was a painter who worked for a painting contractor. Jackson’s employer was hired to paint railroad tank cars, and the employer sent Jackson to do the painting. Jackson used a paint called Copon EA9 manufactured by Reliance Universal, Inc. (Reliance) (defendant) on the inside of the tank cars. The Copon EA9 label contained a warning to keep the paint away from heat, sparks, and open flame; use the paint with adequate ventilation; and avoid breathing the spray mist. Believing that the warning about ventilation referred only to breathing the paint’s toxic fumes, Jackson wore a mask with a tube so he could breathe air from outside the tank car. While Jackson was painting, the interior of the tank car caught on fire, and Jackson was severely burned. Jackson was not aware that the paint fumes could accumulate in a closed space and become extremely flammable, but other employees of Jackson’s employer were aware of this. Jackson filed a diversity action against Reliance, alleging Reliance was strictly liable for failing to specifically warn of the risk of flammability of accumulated paint vapors. Following trial, the judge instructed the jury in part that Reliance had a duty to give Livingston or his employer proper and adequate warnings of the paint’s dangers, but if Reliance had reason to believe that Livingston or his employer knew or would discover the paint’s dangers, then Reliance did not have a duty to warn. The jury found in Reliance’s favor. Livingston appealed, arguing that the jury instructions were incorrect.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Merrill, J.)
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