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THOMPSON v. REEDMAN

October 23, 1961

Pete J. THOMPSON
v.
Ralph REEDMAN, trading as Reedman Motors and General Motors Corporation, Chevrolet Motor Division



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LORD, JR.

The jurisdiction of this Court derives from diversity of citizenship of the parties and jurisdictional amount. Plaintiff, Pete J. Thompson, was injured in an automobile accident which occurred in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on September 13, 1958. When the accident occurred, plaintiff Thompson was riding as a passenger in the automobile of one William Gray.

In his complaint, Thompson alleges that the automobile in which he was riding at tie time of the accident was purchased by William Gray in 1958 from defendant, Ralph Reedman, trading as Reedman Motors. The accident is alleged to have been caused by the sticking of the gas or accelerator pedal -- causing William Gray to lose control of his automobile which then collided with the automobile operated by Anne Critelli (who is not a party to this suit).

 There is on file, dated September 2, 1961, the admission of defendant Ralph Reedman, Trading as Reedman Motors (hereinafter referred to as 'Reedman'):

 '* * * that he sold a new 1958 Chevrolet automobile to one, William Gray, in Levittown, Pennsylvania, on February 24, 1958.'

 In any case, the motions of defendants are taken to admit, for the purpose of the motions, that the car in question was a Chevrolet, purchased by William Gray from Reedman, and that the accident was caused by the sticking of the gas or accelerator pedal as heretofore recited. These motions are taken to be made under the authority of Rule 12(b)(6) 'Failure * * * to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.' Fed.R.Civ.P., 28 U.S.C.

 In numerous paragraphs of the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that one or both of defendants, in selling the Chevrolet with a defective gas pedal or accelerator pedal, breached express warranties and implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for the intended purpose, i.e. Pars. 9, 10, 11, 13 and 14.

 The argument of defendants, in a nutshell, is no privity. As Reedman states it:

 'It is the general rule in Pennsylvania that in order to recover damages for personal injuries arising out of breach of warranty there must be some privity between the injured person and the defendant manufacturer or seller. Loch v. Confair, 361 Pa. 158 (63 A.2d 24) (1949).'

 It is to be understood that the present complaint does not purport to state a negligence action. The only question at hand is sometimes stated as follows:

 'Is privity of contract an essential to recovery in an action based on a theory other than negligence, against the manufacturer or seller of a product alleged to have caused injury?' E.g. 75 A.L.R.2d 39 (1961).

 Plaintiff argues that 'The Uniform Commercial Code and Comments thereto specify that plaintiff may recover from Reedman and General Motors for breach of warranty.'

 The Uniform Commercial Code, enacted in Pennsylvania in 1953, in 12A P.S. § 2-318 covering third-party beneficiaries of warranties, provides:

 'A seller's warranty whether express or implied extends to any natural person who is in the family or household of his buyer or who is a guest in his home if it is reasonable to expect that such person may use, consume or be affected by the goods and who is injured in person by breach of the warranty. A seller may not exclude or limit the operation of this section. (1953, April 6, P.L. 3, § 2-318.)'

 Plaintiff argues that, since 'a guest in his home' is covered, then a guest in an automobile should similarly be covered. The Uniform ...


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