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Phillips v. Kimwood Machine Company

Oregon Supreme Court
525 P.2d 1033 (1974)


Facts

Pope and Talbot, a manufacturer of wood products, purchased a sanding machine from Kimwood Machine Company (Kimwood) (defendant). The machine used powered rollers to move sheets of fiberboard over six sanding heads. The sanding heads exerted strong force on the fiberboard in the opposite direction than it was moving, but spring-loaded pinch rolls kept the fiberboard from kicking back out of the machine. The machine had to be manually adjusted for the thickness of the fiberboard it was sanding. Kimwood’s smaller models of the machine were equipped with a line of metal teeth that would prevent any boards from being regurgitated from the machine in the event that the pinch rolls failed to keep boards moving forward. These smaller machines were designed to be fed manually. The machine that Pope and Talbot purchased was not equipped with metal teeth to avoid kickback. Pope and Talbot’s machine was built only for use with automatic feeders, which Kimwood sold separately. Pope and Talbot chose not to purchase an automatic feeder, but instead operated the machine in conjunction with their own feeding device, which was partially automatic and partially manual. Phillips (plaintiff) was an employee of Pope and Talbot. One day Phillips was manually feeding a batch of thick fiberboard through the sanding machine. One thin piece of fiberboard was inadvertently included in the batch. When Phillips fed the thin board through the machine, the pressure from the sanding heads kicked the board back out at Phillips, striking his abdomen. Phillips sued Kimwood to recover for is injuries, alleging that the machine was unreasonably dangerous because of its defective design. The trial court granted Kimwood’s motion for a directed verdict. Phillips appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Holman, J.)

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