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McCormack v. Hankscraft Co.

Minnesota Supreme Court
154 N.W.2d 488 (1967)


Donald McCormack (plaintiff) purchased an electric Hankscraft steam vaporizer manufactured by Hankscraft Company, Inc. (Hankscraft) (defendant), to be used as a humidifier for his eight-month-old daughter, Andrea (plaintiff). The McCormacks read the instruction manual “cover to cover.” The vaporizer was placed on a kitchen stool about four feet from Andrea’s bed and was turned on for overnight use. During the night, Andrea got out of bed to use the restroom, knocked over the unit, causing scalding hot water to be spilled on her. Andrea suffered burns on more than 30 percent of her body, including third degree burns on her chest, shoulders, and back. She suffered from shock and was in critical condition for a period of time. Andrea twice required skin graft surgery and was hospitalized for an extended period of time. Due to the burns, Andrea suffered permanent injuries. It was later found that the water that spilled on Andrea reached 211 degrees (180 degree water will cause third degree burns on a child). The McCormacks filed suit against Hankscraft for negligence in its failure to warn of the inherent dangers of the vaporizer and in its adoption of an unsafe design. After a jury found against Hankscraft, the trial court judge granted Hankscraft’s motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict and granted a conditional new trial. The McCormacks appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rogosheske, J.)

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