Question

Barbara K. Thompson purchased a Sunbean brand food hand mixer. The mixer was made by Simatelex, a company located in Hong Kong, China, marketed in the United States by Sunbeam Products, Inc., and purchased by Thompson at a Walmart store. Thompson was familiar with electric hand mixers and had owned previous mixers for about twenty years before purchasing the Sunbeam mixer. The box for the Sunbeam mixer included an instruction booklet, which included the heading “IMPORTANT SAFEGUARDS” in enlarged capital letters. Under this section the booklet stated “Unplug from outlet while not in use, before putting on or taking off parts and before cleaning.” Under the section entitled in enlarged capital letters ­“INSTALLING ATTACHMENTS” the manual stated, “Make sure the speed control is in the ‘OFF’ position and unplugged from an electrical outlet. Insert attachments one at a time by placing stem end into the opening on the bottom of the mixer.” Under the section entitled in enlarged capital letters “EJECTING BEATERS” the manual stated, “Make sure the speed control is in the ‘OFF’ position and unplugged from an electrical outlet prior to ejecting beaters.” Thompson took the mixer out of the box, inserted the beaters, and turned on the mixer. When she thought one of the beaters was loose, Thompson held the mixer in one hand and tried to push the beater back into place with her other hand while the mixer was still on. One of Thompson’s fingers was pulled into the two moving beaters. She called her husband for assistance, was taken to the hospital and had her finger amputated. Thompson sued Simatelex, Sunbeam, and Walmart for strict liability for failure to warn. Are the defendants strictly liable to Thompson? Did Thompson act ethically in this case? Thompson v. Sunbeam Products, Inc., 2012 U. S. App. Lexis 22530 (United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 2012)


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  • CreatedAugust 12, 2015
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