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Distinction Between Latent Defect and Patent Defect Limited in Indiana
Description Changing a long-standing rule, the Indiana supreme court held that the difference between a latent defect and a patent defect is irrelevant in determining whether a duty of care exists. The relevant test is whether there was a reasonable inspection regardless of the kind of defect.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence, Latent Defect, Patent Defect
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Indiana supreme court granted transfer to address one issue in a case: "When a defective chattel causes personal injury, should the legal duty owed by a supplier of the chattel rest upon whether the defect is considered 'latent' rather than 'patent'?"
Decision "We granted transfer to address the continued viability of the latent/patent nature of the defect becomes relevant only when determining whether the duty to inspect was breached. Breach of the duty would arise where a supplier of a chattel fails, upon reasonable inspection, to discover a patent defect. Where a latent defect exists, there would be no breach for failing to discover the defect so long as a reasonable inspection was performed.... To the extent that the latent/patent distinction may have been employed in earlier cases as the basis for deciding the existence of a legal duty to inspect, we find it unsatisfactory."
Citation McGlothlin v. M&U Trucking, Inc., ---N.E.2d--- (1997 WL 745198, Sup. Ct., Ind.)
or
688 N.E.2d 1243 (Sup. Ct., Ind., 1997)

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