Oregon Case Law Update: Products Liability: When Can a Manufacturer be Liable for Another Manufacturer’s Parts?

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Oregon Case Law Update: Products Liability: When Can a Manufacturer be Liable for Another Manufacturer’s Parts?

From the Desk of Jeff Eberhard: In this products liability case, the court was tasked with determining whether a manufacturer’s pumps were in substantially the same condition as when they were sold after asbestos-containing components manufactured by others were routinely replaced.

Claims Pointer: The Oregon Court of Appeals held that summary judgment was inappropriate where Plaintiff presented evidence that Defendant’s pumps were in substantially the same condition as they were when sold despite the fact the asbestos-containing components sold by Defendant had long been replaced by the time of Plaintiff’s exposure.  The case is a reminder to manufacturers of their duty to warn consumers of possible dangers presented by their products, and that their duty may extend to the components that were manufactured by others and expected to be replaced over the life of the product.

McKenzie v. A.W. Chesterson Co., 277 Or App 728 (2016).

In the 1940s, Defendant Warren Pumps, LLC (“Warren Pumps”), designed and sold various pumps to the Navy.  These pumps were installed on the USS Boxer and the USS Hancock, the aircraft carriers on which Paul McKenzie (“McKenzie”) served during his naval career.  Warren Pumps’ sales records indicated some of the pumps originally had asbestos-containing gaskets, packing, or external insulation material.  Notably, Warren Pumps did not manufacture those items, instead purchasing them from third parties, and they were replaced regularly.  Warren Pumps manufactured the pumps and sold them with gaskets, packing, or insulation as complete packages.  The pumps were designed according to the Navy’s specifications and approved by the Navy.  Warren Pumps did not supply warnings with respect to the hazards of asbestos with any of the pumps it sold to the Navy.

Both ships had undergone overhauls by the time...

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