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Liability of Component Maker Explained in New Standard
Description The Rhode Island high court adopted the Restatement (Third) of Torts with respect to liability of a component supplier. Such manufacturers may be liable for harm when they substantially participate in the design of the final product.
Topic Torts
Key Words Products Liability; Component Manufacturer
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Buonanno's arm was crushed at work by a conveyor belt made by Colmar. The conveyor belt contained parts made by EPT that were involved in the accident. Buonanno alleged strict liability and negligence with respect to the design of the conveyor belt and for failure to warn of its dangerous nature. The trial court granted EPT summary judgment, holding that as the maker of a component part, it had no duty to insure the proper design of the final product. Buonanno appealed.
Decision Reversed. Rhode Island hereby adopts the Restatement (Third) of Torts 5, which states: "One engaged in the business of selling or otherwise distributing product components who sells or distributes a component is subject to liability for harm to persons or property caused by a product into which the component is integrated if : (a) the component is defective in itself ... or (b) (1) the seller or distributor of the component substantially participates in the integration of the component into the design of the product; and (2) the integration of the component causes the product to be defective ...: and (3) the defect in the product causes the harm." The trial court must determine if this standard applies to EPT, a component maker for Colmar.
Citation Buonanno v. Colmar Belting Co., 733 A.2d 712 (Sup. Ct., R.I., 1999)

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