Allocating responsibility to protect the plaintiff from plaintiff's own fault. Case: Parties: Bexiga v.

Havir Manufacturing Corp. Plaintiff - Bexiga (father of the minor employee) Defendant - (manufacturer of the machine)

Procedural History: Trial court dismissed the suit; appellate division affirmed. Now before NJ Supreme court. Facts: Minor employed, operating a machine which ended up crushing minor's hand, which resulted in loss of fingers and deformity. Minor's job was to put a disc on the machine, press a pedal, and the machine would punch two holes into the disc. Minor was doing this, and at one point saw that the disc was not properly in place, he brought his hand to the machine to fix it, and at that point, his foot pressed the pedal, which caused the machine to cut his hand. Father sued the manufacturer of the machine on contributory negligence. An expert explained there were safety devices available in the industry to protect from this type of accident. Defendant says plaintiff contributorily negligent because he stuck his hand in, and pressed the pedal himself, so he did it to himself. Defendant says as a matter of law, plaintiff is contributorily negligent. Issue: Holding: Can the defendants use contributory negligence as a defense? Reversed and remanded for new trial.

Reasoning: The negligence of the plaintiff was the exact situation that the safety devices were designed to prevent from happening. Court says it wouldn't make sense to say that defendant has a duty to install the safety devices, but wouldn’t be liable for a breach of that duty. So they conclude that contributory negligence as a defense is not available. Manufacturer should know this type of accident can happen, and so has a duty to protect against it by installing safety devices. RULE: fault. Notes • Repetitive motions of the plaintiff - lead plaintiff to press the pedal, out of habit. • Why is manufacturer responsible for protecting users of their machine against their own negligence? ○ Sometimes, there is a statute requiring heightened duty ○ Here, no statute. - what are the factors to look for, for special duty? § Risks are not reciprocal - plaintiffs conduct endangering plaintiff but no one else □ Whether the risks are reciprocal (does the plaintiff's fault impose risk on others/defendant?) § Manufacturer knows how machine is used, and the repetition can cause harm □ Whether the defendant knows of limitations regarding the plaintiff's ability to exercising care for him/herself ○ If only one factor present, less strong case, but you can still use it. Defendant had a special duty to protect the plaintiff from plaintiff's own