Dorman V. International Harvester Case Study

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Dorman v. International Harvester Co.

Court of Appeal of California



In 1975 William Dorman (plaintiff) purchased a tractor from International Harvester Company (defendant) that required Dorman to sign a “Retail Installment Conditional Sales Contract.” That contract encompassed two key aspects of the sale, the first being a disclaimer of the implied warranties of merchantability while the second was a fitness for particular purpose.

The conflict lies in the placement of the previously mentioned disclaimer, which was below and in slightly larger print than the terms-of-payment paragraph, and it was also directly above the signature line. In the agreement of the disclaimer IHC would only offer a standard printed warranty
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Liriano (plaintiff) was involved in an accident where he lost his hand in a meat grinder that manufactured by Hobart Corp (defendant). It was determined that the safety guard was removed from the meat grinder by Mr. Liriano’s employer. However, no warnings were issued that forbid usage without the safety guard.

Upon review, the jury applied the employer of Liriano 95 percent liable and 5 percent liability to Hobart. Additionally an amount of one-third of responsibility was given to Liriano for the accident. The issue was brought directly to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, postulating whether a manufacturer should be liable for failure to warn of the consequences of any type of product modification.

Generally a manufacturer is positioned to be liable when they fail to warn of the consequences associated (that render a product unsafe or defective) with third party modifications. They are also liable for any lack of warning of a product’s latent dangers or any reasonably foreseeable and unintended misuses of the product. This information is seemingly contradictory as the rule of law states that manufacturers do no hold liability when third party modifications result in injuries as the machine or product is rendered defective or

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