Michigan Court Overturns Common Sense
May 24, 2010
A Michigan man with experience as a mechanic and a history of repairing engines died of carbon monoxide poisoning after letting a car run in a closed garage while trying to repair a muffler. The man’s family sued the manufacturer of the muffler repair kit for failing to warn about the dangers of repairing mufflers indoors. A Michigan trial court originally threw out the case, but the Court of Appeals reversed the ruling and the suit will now go to trial. Writing for the minority (and for common sense), Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly noted:
“In my view, defendants had no duty to warn of the dangers associated with another manufacturer’s product. Further, assuming for the sake of argument that such a duty existed, running the engine of a car in a small, enclosed space, such as a garage, is an obvious material risk to a reasonably prudent product user and would be especially obvious to a person like the decedent whose employment involved servicing and repairing engines.”
Judge Kelly also pointed out that it is “undisputed” that the muffler repair kit did not create the carbon monoxide poisoning; rather it was the man’s “misuse of the vehicle in an enclosed space” that caused the harm. It will now be up to a Michigan jury to decide whether justice and common sense still apply in the state.