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 Metzgar v. Playskool Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
30 F.3d 459 (1994)


In 1990, the 15-month-old son of Ronald Metzgar (plaintiff) choked to death on a building block manufactured by Playskool Inc. (Playskool) (defendant). There was not a choking-hazard warning on the building-block box, but the box did state that the building blocks were only for children between one-and-a-half years and five years of age. The block’s size and shape met federal consumer product safety standards. Metzgar sued Playskool, alleging negligent design of the blocks. Playskool argued that in the previous 20 years, the block had not prompted any complaints for choking injuries. Metzgar’s expert witness testified that in 1988, 11 children had died as a result of choking on small toys or toy parts. The district court conducted a risk-utility analysis and found that the risk of choking on one of the blocks was so small that the risk was not an unreasonable one and was thus permitted under the law. Specifically, the district court found that there was not a realistic threshold of risk of choking on the block. The district court granted Playskool’s motion for summary judgment. Metzgar appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Mansmann, J.)

Dissent (Scirica, J.)

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