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Ostendorf v. Clark Equipment Co.

Supreme Court of Kentucky
122 S.W.3d 530 (2003)


Facts

Michael Ostendorf (plaintiff), an employee of Delta Airlines (Delta), was operating a forklift manufactured by Clark Equipment Company (Clark) (defendant). Ostendorf was injured when a baggage-carrier vehicle crashed into his forklift, causing the forklift to tip over. The forklift was compliant with all safety regulations at the time of manufacture, which did not include a requirement for operator restraints. Before the accident, Clark had voluntarily initiated a campaign to retrofit its forklifts with operator restraints. Ostendorf’s forklift had not yet been retrofitted when the accident occurred. Ostendorf filed suit against Clark for, among other things, (1) breach of a duty to retrofit the forklift with operator restraints and (2) negligence with respect to its retrofit campaign. The trial court granted Clark summary judgment. The court of appeals reversed the summary judgment, but held that a manufacturer did not have a duty to retrofit a product and that Clark was not negligent with respect to its retrofit campaign. Ostendorf appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Johnstone, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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