9 J.C. & U.L. 209 (1982-1983)
Negligent Publishing: Implications for University Publishers

handle is hein.journals/jcolunly9 and id is 221 raw text is: NEGLIGENT PUBLISHING:
IMPLICATIONS FOR
UNIVERSITY PUBLISHERS
DONALD WALLIS*
I. INTRODUCTION
On September 4, 1980, a jury in the U.S. District Court in Spr-
ingfield, Massachusetts awarded Carolyn Carter $100,000 in her suit
against Rand McNally Publishing Company.' Carolyn Carter, an eighth
grade chemistry student, had been severely burned during a chemistry
class while attempting an experiment described in a textbook published
by Rand McNally. This experiment called for the use of methyl alcohol, a
highly inflammable substance. The plaintiff argued, and the jury agreed,
that her injuries were caused, in part, by the publishing company's
negligent failure to test the experiments in the textbook and by the
publisher's failure to adequately warn students and teachers about the
dangerous qualities of these experiments. Rand McNally did not appeal
the verdict.
This case is of special interest to publishing companies because it is
the first time a book has been considered a product and the first time
products liability theory has been used to impose liability upon a
publishing house for an injury caused by technical information contained
within a textbook.2
This note will examine products liability law and attempt to deter-
mine whether Carter v. Rand McNally & Co. is within the mainstream of
evolving products liability theory (and therefore of considerable
precedential value) or whether the case is merely an unusual abberation
(and therefore of little precedential value). Then the implications of this
* Associate, Stringer & Grant, Chattanooga, Tennessee; J.D., 1982, West Virginia
University; M.A., 1974, Marshall University; B.A., 1970, University of Virginia.
1 Carter v. Rand McNally & Co., No. 76-1864-F (D. Mass. September 4, 1980). This
case was reported in the following newspapers: Holyoke Transcript-Telegram, Sept. 4 and
Sept. 5, 1980; Srpingfield Union, Sept. 15, 1980. The case was discussed in the following
journals: 17 Trial 89 (1981) and Butler's 7 (1981). 22 Chronicle of Higher Education 13
(1981). This case is also referred to in SWARTZ, HAZARDOUS PRODUCT LITIGATION 16, 21 (1981
Cum. Supp.).
2 Chronicle of Higher Education, supra at 13.

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