New York Court of Appeals - 217 N.Y. 382
This case involves a defective car wheel causing injury to the plaintiff. The defendant, a manufacturer, could have discovered the defect through reasonable inspection but did not. The principle established in Thomas v. Winchester is that manufacturers are not liable if their conduct, though negligent, is not likely to result in injury to anyone except the purchaser. However, the concept of a duty imposed upon manufacturers by the law itself, irrespective of contract, when goods or machinery are supplied for use by another person under circumstances where ordinary care and skill must be used to avoid injury, was established in Heaven v. Pender. The appropriate remedy for a neglect of ordinary care or skill is an action for negligence. The lower court did not err.
The defendant corporation was held liable for injuries caused by a defective wheel of an automobile, even for a subvendee who was not a party to the original contract of sale. The court extended the liability of a vendor of a manufactured article beyond any previous case in New York, holding that a vendor's liability for defects causing injury is limited to the immediate vendee, except in cases where the article sold is inherently dangerous. The court distinguished between acts of negligence that are imminently dangerous and those that are not, stating that a person who builds a defective product is not liable for injuries suffered by a third party who hires the product, as the obligation to build arises solely out of the contract with the buyer or owner.
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