The Second Department determined plaintiff had raised questions of fact whether the automobile lift was defectively designed and whether there were inadequate warnings about its use. When the lift was originally shipped, there was a plastic cover over an opening which exposed the mechanism. The plastic cover was inexplicably missing. Two of plaintiff's fingers were partially amputated when plaintiff put his hand inside the hole. Although the manufacturer demonstrated the product was safe with the cover in place, plaintiff raised questions of fact in opposition, including a question whether the lift was intended to be used without the cover:
Manufacturers may be held strictly liable for injuries caused by their products “because of a mistake in the manufacturing process, because of defective design or because of inadequate warnings regarding use of the product” … . Furthermore, “[a] manufacturer has a duty to warn against latent dangers resulting from foreseeable uses of its product[s] of which it knew or should have known” … .
Here, the manufacturer made a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing so much of the complaint as alleged products liability based upon a design defect. The manufacturer demonstrated that the lift was shipped with a plastic cover over the hole in the lift but the cover had been removed by the time of the accident … . The manufacturer further demonstrated, prima facie, that, if the cover were in place, it would have prevented the plaintiff from placing his hand or other body parts inside the lift while the lift was in operation … . However, in opposition, the plaintiff raised triable issues of fact as to whether the lift was defective at the time it was manufactured and sold, or whether a post-sale modification of the product rendered the otherwise safe product defective, and the modification was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries … . Among other things, the plaintiff raised a triable issue as to whether the lift was intended to be used without the plastic cover in place … .
With respect to the plaintiff's inadequate warning claim, the manufacturer failed to establish, prima facie, that it had adequately warned users of the hazards posed by operating the lift without the cover in place or, more broadly, the dangers of placing a hand or other body part in the hole while operating the lift … . Singh v Gemini Auto Lifts, Inc., 2016 NY Slip Op 01826, 2nd Dept 3-16-16
PRODUCTS LIABILITY (QUESTIONS OF FACT WHETHER AUTOMOBILE LIFT WAS INTENDED TO BE USED WITHOUT A PROTECTIVE DEVICE AND WHETHER WARNINGS WERE ADEQUATE)