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Goodrich v. Cequent Performance Products, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 16, 2018

BRIAN GOODRICH, PATRICIA GOODRICH, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND OF S.M.G. AND S.L.G., Plaintiffs,
v.
CEQUENT PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS, INC., TRIMAS CORPORATION, CIMLINE, INC., PLYMOUTH INDUSTRIES, INC., And GARLOCK EQUIPMENT CO., INC., Defendants.

          FINDING AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS JOINT AND PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO EXCLUDE EXPERT WITNESS TESTIMONY (DOCKET NO. 88)

          TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN DISTRICT JUDGE

         Introduction

         Cimline Inc. and Garlock Equipment Co., Inc. design, manufacture, and sell the MAGMA 110 Asphalt Melter. In April 2013, Plaintiff was changing the oil on his MAGMA 110 Asphalt Melter when it collapsed on him causing serious injuries. The Plaintiff has filed suit against the Defendants seeking monetary damages. The First Amended Complaint (“Complaint”) alleges negligence (Count I), and breach of the express and implied warranties of merchantability (Count II) against Garlock Equipment Company (“Garlock”). It further alleges negligence (Count XI), and breach of the express and implied warranties of merchantability (Count XII) against Cimline, Inc. (“Cimline”).[1] Plaintiff does not oppose the motion for summary judgment as to Defendant Plymouth Industries (“Plymouth”) and therefore Plymouth's motion is granted. Additionally, Plaintiff does not oppose dismissal of any express warranty claims.

         Facts

         Defendant Garlock Equipment Co. (”Garlock”) purchased Defendant Cimline, Inc., (“Cimline”) (collectively referred to as “Defendants”) in 1992 to manufacture and sell asphalt melters. One of the products Defendants designed, manufactured and sold is the MAGMA 110 Asphalt Melter/Applicator (“Melter”). The Melter is used to seal cracks in asphalt and other hard pavement-type surfaces.

         The Melter is attached to a trailer which is equipped with a jack assembly system. The jack assembly system has two parts; a steel pivot-tube mounted plate and a detachable jack. The pivot-tube mounted plate is permanently welded to the trailer unlike the detachable jack, which is used to hold the trailer elevated above ground. The detachable jack is secured to the pivot-tube by a pivot pin fastened to the freestanding jack with a chain.

         Defendants sell the Melter with a Bulldog jack, which is manufactured by Cequent Performance Products (“Cequent”).[2] Cequent publishes and distributes the following warnings with their Bulldog jacks inter alia

1. Never allow installation or use of this product by anyone without providing them with these instructions; and
2. Secure the load, vehicle and trailer from rolling (by blacking wheels)…; and
3. If this product has a pivot tube mount, make certain the pivot pin is fully inserted through both; and
4. Operator and bystanders should never position any part of their body under any portion of this product or the load being supported

(the “Bulldog Warning”).

         Cimline publishes and distributes an owner's manual with the Melter (the “Safety Manual”). The Safety Manual does not include the Bulldog Warning, or any warning relating to the jack-assembly or hazards of placing a body underneath the Melter while elevated by the jack. There are no warnings on the Melter or the Bulldog jack instructing the user to pin the jack before use in order to be safely operated. Additionally there are no instructions stating that the Bulldog jack is the only jack that should be used with the Melter. Richard Stoffels, Defendants safety engineer, [3] testified that as long as a pin is used, any jack with the appropriate rated capacity that fits into the pivot-tube mounting is acceptable.[4] As safety engineer, Stoffels is responsible for the design and safety of the Melter. Since Garlock purchased Cimline, no hazard safety analysis on the jack assembly system of the Melter has been conducted. Furthermore, there is no documentation showing that a hazard safety analysis was ever conducted on the Melter before Garlock purchased Cimline.

         The Melter can last up to ten years but the oil needs to be changed approximately every 250 hours. The only way to change the oil is to lift the Melter using the ...


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