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1960 Ins. L.J. 407 (1960)
Products Liability

handle is hein.journals/inslj22 and id is 407 raw text is: July 1960, Number 450

Products Liability
The law of product liability crosses the fields of contract, -negligence,
warranty, inherent dangers, etc. This article, tracing the history
of these doctrines, is reprinted from the New York Law Journal.
T   HE EARLIEST DEVELOPMENT of products liability law was
in the field of negligence, although the landmark English case of
Winterbottom v. Wright I was in reality based upon a breach of war-
ranty. A mail coach driver was injured due to a mechanical defect in
the mail coach, which had been sold to his employer. He sued unsuc-
cessfully on the basis of the sales contract between his employer and
the coach manufacturer. The English court in 1842 held that the coach
manufacturer owed a duty of care only to the person with whom he
contracted: The only safe rule is to confine the right to recover to
those who enter into the contract. Thus, the doctrine of privity of
contract was delineated.
Ten years later the New York Court of Appeals, in Thomas v.
Winchester,2 a negligence action, brushed aside, however, the defense
of lack of privity of contract. A bottle containing an extract of bella-
donna, a deadly poison, had been mislabeled as extract of dandelion,
a mild and harmless medicine. The product was sold to a druggist,.
who, in turn, sold it to another druggist, who then made the sale to
the plaintiff for his wife's use. The court held the manufacturer liable
upon breach of a duty of care to the wife, the ultimate consumer, because
the product was of a dangerous character; this duty of care, however,
did not arise out of the contract of sale.
The next landmark case was Huset v. J. I. Case Threshing Machine
Company,3 in 1903, and involved injuries to the employee of a farmer
who had purchased a defective threshing machine. In allowing
recovery upon proof of negligence, Federal Judge Sanborn spelled out
'Winterbottom v. Wright, 10 M. & W. 100 (1842).
Thomas v. Winchester, 6 N. Y. 397 (1852).
Huset v. J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company, 120 F. 865 (1903).
Products Liability

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