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Koken v. Black & Veatch Construction, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
426 F.3d 39 (2005)


Facts

Black & Veatch Construction, Inc. (B&V), a general contractor, and Reliance Insurance Company (Reliance) (plaintiffs) brought suit for breach of warranty after a fire blanket manufactured by Auburn Manufacturing, Inc. (Auburn) and distributed by Inpro, Inc. (Inpro) (defendants) caught fire. The process of extinguishing the fire caused damage estimated at $9 million. When the blanket caught fire, B&V was using it to contain sparks in an area where welding was being done. B&V and Reliance sued Auburn and Inpro alleging breach of the warranty of merchantability because the fire blanket was unfit for its ordinary purpose. Auburn and Inpro did not contest whether B&V’s use of the fire blanket was an ordinary purpose. However, conflicting testimony was given at trial as to whether the blanket was unfit for the purpose for which it was used. Although B&V presented testimony that it was surprised that the blanket caught fire, the construction foreman testified that the blanket performed as expected and the type of holes caused by the fire were not uncommon. The trial court granted summary judgment on the breach of warranty claim, finding insufficient evidence that the fire blanket failed to perform as reasonably expected. B&V and Reliance appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Dyk, J.)

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