Lessor Liability For Product Liability Claims - Accident Lawyer Hawaii

Product Liability Lawyer - Accident Attorney Hawaii

Honolulu Products Liability Lawyer Bill Lawson

Attorney Bill Lawson

What We Do at Accident Lawyer Hawaii - video Honolulu Personal Injury Attorney - Claims We Handle Personal Injury Attorney Hawaii results Honolulu Personal Injury Attorney - Call us now

Awards and Honors


AV Preeminent rated by Martindale Hubbell
Martindale Hubbell - AV rated lawyer - Best Rating Possible


Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum


AVVO Top Rated Personal Injury Attorney
AVVO Top Rated Personal Injury Attorney, 10 of 10


ATLA Top 100 Trial Lawyers
ATLA Top 100


5.0 of 5.0 top rated by Lawyers.com
Lawyers.com - Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 - Top Rating Possible


National Trial Lawyers - Top Lawyer
National Trial Lawyers - Top 100 Trial Lawyers


Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Million Dollar Advocates Forum


American Society of Legal Advocates - Top 100 - 2014
American Society of Legal Advocates - Top 100 - 2014


Marquis' Who's Who
Marquis' Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America and Who's Who in American Law


AVVO Clients' Choice Personal Injury Lawyer
AVVO Clients' Choice Personal Injury Lawyer


American Society of Legal Advocates - Top 100 - 2013
American Society of Legal Advocates - Top 100 - 2013



Defective Products - Table of Contents

Lessor Liability For Product Liability Claims

Strict Liability Cases In Hawaii



The doctrine of strict liability in tort is applied to commercial lessors of products, and to leased transactions which are commercial in nature. Wright v. Newman, 735 F.2d 1073 (8th Cir. 1984) [applying Missouri law]; Ghionis v. Deer Valley Resort Co., 839 F.Supp. 789 (Utah 1993); Bidar v. AMFAC, Inc., 66 Hawaii 547, 669 P.2d 154 (1983); Bachner v. Pearson, 479 P.2d 319 (Alaska 1970); Lechuga, Inc. v. Montgomery, 12 Ariz. App. 32, 476 P.2d 256 (1970); Westlye v. Look Sports, 17 Cal. App. 4th 1715, 22 Cal. Rptr. 2d 781 (review denied) (1993); Baird v. Power Rental Equipment, Inc., 35 Colo. App. 299, 533 P.2d 941 (1975), affd 191 Colo. 319, 552 P.2d 494 (1976); Golt by Golt v. Sports Complex, 644 A.2d 989, app. den (Del 1994); Samuel Friedland Family Enters. v. Amoroso, 630 So.2d 1067 (Fla. 1994); Zanzig v. H.P.M. Corp., 134 Ill. App. 3d 617, 89 Ill Dec 461, 480 NE2d 1204 (1985); Black v. Gorman-Rupp, 655 So.2d 717 (1973); Gabbard v. Stephenson's Orchard, Inc., 565 SW2d 753 (Mo. 1978); Hawkins Constr. Co. v. Matthews Co., 190 Neb. 546, 209 NW2d 643 (1973) (ovrld in part on other grounds by National Crane Corp. v. Ohio Steel Tube Co., 213 Neb. 782, 332 NW2d 39 (1983)); Ettin v. Ava Truck Leasing, Inc., 53 NJ 463, 251 A.2d 278 (1969); Ortiz v. Gas Co. (App), 97 NM 81, 636 P.2d 900 (1981); Winckel v. Atlantic Rents & Sales, 159 App.Div. 2d 124, 557 NYS.2d 951 (1990), later proceeding 195 App.Div. 2d 599, 600 NYS.2d 949 (1993); Waters v. Patent Scaffold Co., 75 App.Div. 2d 744, 427 NYS.2d 436 (1980), app. dismd 53 NY.2d 704 (1975); Miles v. General Tire & Rubber Co., 10 Ohio App. 3d 186, 460 NE.2d 1377 (1983); Gonser v. Decker, 814 P.2d 1056 (Okla. 1991); Fulbright v. Klamath Gas Co., 271 Or. 449, 553 P.2d 316 (1975); Francioni v. Gibsonia Truck Corp., 472 Pa. 362, 372 A.2d 736 (1977); Brimbau v. Ausdale Equip. Rental Corp., 440 A.2d 1292 (R.I. 1982); Peterson v. Safway Steel Scaffolds Co., 400 NW.2d 909 (S.D. 1987); O'Neal v. Sherck Equipment Co., 751 SW.2d 559 (Texas 1988); Kemp v. Miller, 154 Wis.2d 538, 453 NW.2d 872 (1990).


A commercial lessor or bailor is subject to strict liability because his or her position in the overall producing and marketing enterprise is no different than that of a seller. For example, the commercial lessor typically is within the original chain of distribution, reaps a profit by placing a product in the stream of commerce, and, when the product is in his or her hands, is as capable as a seller of preventing a defective product from proceeding through the stream of commerce. George v. Tonjes, 414 F.Supp. 1199 (W.D. Wisc. 1976); Whitfield v. Cooper, 30 Conn.Supp. 47, 298 A.2d 50 (1972); Martin v. Ryder Truck Rental, Inc., 353 A.2d 581 (Del. 1976); Crowe v. Public Bldg. Com., 74 Ill.2d 10, 23 Ill. Dec. 80, 383 NE.2d 951 (1978); Gabbard v. Stephenson's Orchard, Inc., 565 SW.2d 753 (Mo. 1978); Dewberry v. La Follette, 598 P.2d 241 (Okla. 1979); Francioni v. Gibsonia Truck Corp., 472 Pa. 362, 372 A.2d 736 (1977); Brimbau v. Ausdale Equip. Rental Corp., 440 A.2d 1292 (R.I. 1982).


Extension of strict liability to lessors and bailors has been premised on the following factors: (1) in some instances the lessor, like the seller, may be the only member of the marketing chain available to the injured plaintiff for redress (Dewberry v. La Follette, 598 P.2d 241 (Okla. 1979); Francioni v. Gibsonia Truck Corp., 472 Pa. 362, 372 A.2d 736 (1977)); (2) as in the case of the seller, imposition of strict liability upon the lessor serves as an incentive to safety [See Dewberry, supra, and Francioni, supra]; (3) the lessor will be in a better position than the consumer to prevent the circulation of defective products [See Dewberry, supra, and Francioni, supra]; (4) like sellers and manufacturers, commercial lessors are in a position to control their risk through the adoption of inspection and maintenance procedures and to pass on to the lessee the costs of the protective measures and of insurance. George v. Tonjes, 414 F.Supp. 1199 (W.D. Wisc. 1976); Martin v. Ryder Truck Rental, Inc., 353 A.2d 581 (Del. 1976); Miles v. General Tire & Rubber Co., 10 Ohio App. 3d 186, 460 NE.2d 1377 (1983); Dewberry v. La Follette, 598 P.2d 241 (Okla. 1979); Francioni v. Gibsonia Truck Corp., 472 Pa. 362, 372 A.2d 736 (1977).


Arguably, the doctrine of strict liability should apply to lessors with even greater force than to manufacturers and sellers, since lessees of goods might have less of an opportunity to inspect a leased item than would a purchaser, and would rely to a greater extent upon implied assurance by the lessor that the product is safe for its intended purpose (George v. Tonjes, 414 F.Supp. 1199 (W.D. Wisc. 1976); Brimbau v. Ausdale Equip. Rental Corp., 440 A.2d 1292 (R.I. 1982)); and since lessors put a given product to a more sustained use than do retailers, introducing and reintroducing the product into the consumer market with each new lease, the same product may also expose a greater number of persons to potential injury. Cintrone v. Hertz Truck Leasing & Rental Service, 45 NJ 434, 212 A.2d 769 (1965); George v. Tonjes, 414 F.Supp. 1199 (W.D. Wisc. 1976).


A number of cases decided by the Hawaii Supreme Court make it clear that a lessor can be liable in products liability. First, in the case of Stender v. Vincent, 92 Haw. 355, 992 P.2d 50 (2000), the Supreme Court reiterated its position first adopted in Stewart v. Budget Rent-A-Car Corp in 1970. As the Court stated:

"In Stewart v. Budget Rent-A-Car Corp., 52 Haw. 71, 470 P.2d 240 (1970), this court first articulated the rule of strict products liability, to the effect that one who sells or leases a defective product which is dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm caused by the defective product to the ultimate user or consumer, or to his property, if (a) the seller or lessor is engaged in the business of selling or leasing such product, and (b) the product is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without substantial change in its condition after it is sold or leased." [emphasis added] 92 Haw. at 371, 992 P.2d at 60.


In Leong v. Sears Roebuck and Co., 89 Haw. 204, 970 P.2d, 972 (1998), the Hawaii Supreme Court went into further depth on claims in strict products liability against lessors of defective products. That Court stated:

"In Stewart v. Budget Rent-A-Car Corp., 52 Haw. 71, 470 P.2d 240 (1970), this court first integrated strict products liability into Hawai'i law, observing that strict liability in tort is a sound legal basis for recovery in products liability cases. The leading arguments for the adoption of a rule of strict products liability have been that the public interest in human life and safety requires the maximum possible protection that the law can muster against dangerous defects in products; that by placing the goods on the market the maker and those in the chain of distribution represent to the public that the products are suitable and safe for use; and that the burden of accidental injuries caused by defective chattels should be placed upon those in the chain of distribution as a cost of doing business and as an incentive to guard against such defects.

"Therefore, we adopt the rule that one who sells or leases a defective product which is dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm caused by the defective product to the ultimate user or consumer, or to his property, if (a) the seller or lessor is engaged in the business of selling or leasing such product, and (b) the product is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without substantial change in its condition after it is sold or leased. This is essentially the rule adopted in the Second Restatement of Torts, Section 402A. Id. at 74-75, 470 P.2d at 243 (footnotes omitted)." [emphasis added] 89 Haw. at 205, 970 P.2d at 973


The Hawaii Supreme Court had also taken this same position in the case of Masaki v. General Motors Corp., 71 Haw. 1, 780 P.2d 566 (1989). That Court stated:

"In Ontai v. Straub Clinic and Hospital, Inc., 66 Haw. 237, 241, 659 P.2d 734, 739 (1983), we stated the following rule for strict product liability:

'The rule, as thus adopted for this jurisdiction, provides that where a seller or lessor, who is engaged in the business of selling or leasing a product, sells or leases a defective product which is dangerous to the user or consumer, and injury results from its use or consumption, the seller or lessor will be held strictly liable in tort for the injury.'" [emphasis added] 71 Haw. at 23-24, 780 P.2d at 578.


The case of Armstrong v. Cione, 69 Haw. 176, 738 P.2d 79 (1987) is completely consistent with the foregoing analysis. The Armstrong Court stated as follows:

"Petitioner argues Boudreau v. General Electric Co., 2 Haw.App. 10, 17, 625 P.2d 384, 389-90 (1981), permits the tenant to sue the landlord for defective products within the home. Boudreau is in opposite to the present factual circumstances in that the landlord installed the new washer/dryer which exploded and injured plaintiff. The appliance was separate from the structure itself, [FN6] and installed by the landlord. In the instant case, the shower and its door were an integral part of the structure of the apartment building and there was no evidence adduced that Respondent installed the shower during or after renovation. See Livingston v. Begay, 98 N.M. at 716, 652 P.2d at 738. See also George Washington University v. Weintraub, 458 A.2d 43, 49 n. 9 (D.C.App.1983).

"FN6 Cf. Fakhoury v. Magner, 25 Cal.App.3d 58, 63, 101 Cal.Rptr. 473, 476 (1972) ('[w]e conclude that ... the doctrine of strict liability does apply to the landlord, not as lessor of real property, but as lessor of the furniture.')." 69 Haw. at 186, 738 P.2d at 85.

 

Facebook Company page for Accident Lawyer Hawaii - William H. Lawson LinkedIn Company page for Top Honolulu Personal Injury Attorney William H. Lawson Google+ page for Bill Lawson - HI's Best PI Law Firm




Accident Lawyer Hawaii

William H. Lawson, Esq.
Century Square
1188 Bishop St. Suite 2902
Honolulu, HI 96813


New client hotline:
(808) 524-5300


Pearl City, Aiea and Waipahu:
(808) 671-7600


Main business phone:
(808) 528-2525


Directions to Honolulu office


Get a free consultation


HI accident news
and articles


Court cases re:
Hawaii accident law


Lawson Law
Scholarship 2018





Products Liability - Cases & Comment



Jones Act- maritime law and seaman cases



The Constitution Of The State Of Hawaii





Recent Personal Injury and Car Accident News


An important victory in the fight for individual rights (as opposed to insurer rights) is the case of Yukumoto and HMSA v. Tawahara. In that case on May 26, 2017, the Hawaii Supreme Court rejected the efforts of a health insurer who tried to convert its insurance coverage into a 'loan agreement' and recover its medical expense payments from Mr. Yukumoto when he had a 3rd party claim - in spite of the fact that he was not being fully compensated for his losses. This insidious insurance practice has been damaging the citizens and members of the Hawaii community for many years. For more info, see the decision here: Yukumoto and HMSA v. Tawahara, Hawaii Sup. Ct. No. SCAP-15-0000460 (May 26, 2017).










Choose one of the 4 menus below:



There is NO CHARGE for sending your case information to our law firm. The information provided on this website is preliminary and informational ONLY. It is not legal advice. The use of our webpages does not establish an attorney-client relationship. This website is copyright 1999-2017 and the contents of this website are the property of Personal Injury Attorney William H Lawson. The Terms and Conditions of Use for this website and our Privacy Policy are available here for your consideration. All rights reserved.

Hawaii Defective Products Liability Attorney Lawyer

We thank you for visiting our site!