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Zaza v. Marquess & Nell, Inc.
New Jersey Supreme Court
675 A.2d 620 (1996)
Gerardo Zaza (plaintiff), an employee of Maxwell House Coffee (Maxwell House), discovered a clog in a quench tank at the company’s Hoboken plant. Zaza was injured while attempting to repair the clog. Hot molten water and carbon overflowed and landed on his arms and back, causing second-degree burns over 21 percent of his body. The quench tank was part of a larger, complex manufacturing process that Maxwell House used to produce decaffeinated coffee beans called the trecar-carbon regeneration system. Maxwell House prepared the initial designs for the system and submitted them to Marquess & Nell, Inc. (Marquess), an engineering firm, to prepare the final design. Marquess contracted with International Sheet Metal & Plate Manufacturing, Inc. (International) (defendant) for a fabricated quench tank. Brennan Company, Inc. (Brennan) was hired to assemble and integrate the trecar-carbon regeneration system. International was not required to prepare or install any safety devices in the quench tank that it fabricated per the specifications in the bid. All International had to do was cut holes for the safety devices. The final system specifications incorporated three safety devices to prevent molten fluid from overflowing the quench tank. Maxwell House and Brennan were to install these devices. However, Maxwell House decided to omit the safety devices Marquess recommended. Zaza brought an action against Marquess and International, claiming that International had a nondelegable duty to see that Maxwell House and its team of professional assemblers properly integrated the quench tank into the system. The trial court granted summary judgment for Marquess and International, and the appellate court reversed, holding that a fabricator could be held strictly liable. Marquess and International appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Garibaldi, J.)
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