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BURBAGE v. BOILER ENGINEERING & SUPPLY COMPANY (01/24/69)

decided: January 24, 1969.

BURBAGE
v.
BOILER ENGINEERING & SUPPLY COMPANY, INC. (ET AL., APPELLANT)



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, July T., 1964, No. 231, in case of Norina G. Burbage, administratrix of estate of Edmund Burbage, deceased v. Boiler Engineering & Supply Company, Inc. et al.

COUNSEL

James E. O'Neill, Jr., with him Susan P. Windle, William H. Lamb, and Rogers & O'Neill, for appellant.

Richard Reifsnyder, with him MacElree, Platt, Marrone & Harvey, for defendant, appellee.

C. Richard Morton, with him Griffith, Morton & Buckley, for plaintiff, appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Musmanno did not participate in the decision of this case.

Author: Jones

[ 433 Pa. Page 321]

On September 9, 1963, while engaged in employment with Friedman and Sons, Inc., Edmund Burbage (decedent) was killed when a boiler exploded. This boiler, manufactured by Boiler Engineering and Supply Company, Inc. (Boiler), contained a valve manufactured by General Controls, Inc. (General). This valve was not part of the original boiler but was sold as a replacement unit for a boiler which was already in existence. The explosion occurred when General's valve stuck in the open position, permitting an excessive amount of fuel to enter the ignition chamber. The sticking of this valve was caused by an indentation in the face of the valve. General urges that the valve was manufactured as one with a 120 coil and was changed to one with a 220 coil, which change, allegedly,

[ 433 Pa. Page 322]

    took place between the time the valve left General's hands and the time it reached Friedman's hands.*fn1

There is no evidence whether the valve came into the hands of Boiler directly from General or through the hands of an independent jobber and there was conflicting evidence as to when the change in the valve stamp was accomplished.

On the theory that Boiler had manufactured and sold to Friedman, Burbage's employer, the boiler which exploded, Burbage's personal representative (Burbage) instituted a suit for damages arising from decedent's death against Boiler in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County. On the theory that General had manufactured the valve which had been incorporated into the boiler and, therefore, allegedly was responsible for the defect in the valve which caused the explosion, Boiler joined General as an additional defendant on the alternative theories that General was liable, jointly or severally, to Burbage or that, in the event Boiler was held liable, General was liable by way of indemnity to Boiler.

The case was submitted to the jury on the theory of strict liability under ยง 402A of the Restatement 2d, Torts. The jury returned a verdict against Boiler and in favor of Burbage in the amount of $70,000.00 and in favor of Boiler against General for indemnification in the amount of $70,000.00.

General filed motions for judgment n.o.v. or, in the alternative, a new trial. After argument, the court ordered a new trial ...


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