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CHRISTNER v. E. W. BLISS CO.
October 22, 1981
David R. CHRISTNER, Plaintiff,
E. W. BLISS COMPANY, Simbartha, Inc., and E. W. Bliss Division of Gulf& Western Manufacturing Company, Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: HERMAN
Plaintiff filed a motion in limine on July 13, 1981, requesting us to hold five areas of inquiry to be inadmissible for any purpose in the pending jury trial. Plaintiff relied on his trial brief to support his motion and Defendants filed their opposing brief on July 31, 1981. Plaintiff requested the ruling on the following matters:
1. That Plaintiff has received, has been entitled to receive, will receive, or will become entitled to receive, benefits of any kind or character from a collateral source, including but not limited to the following:
(a) Benefits from collateral insurance coverage.
(b) Workers' Compensation Benefits.
(c) Unemployment Compensation Benefits.
2. That the Plaintiff's employer, Cole Steel Division of Litton Industries, Inc. or its Workmen's Compensation Insurance Carrier has or may have a subrogation interest in any recovery pursuant to this litigation.
3. Any reference to facts and circumstances surrounding Plaintiff's termination of employment at Cole Steel Division of Litton Industries for a purported violation of safety rules, without reference to the fact that this defense was considered and rejected by the Bureau of Employment Security in awarding Plaintiff Unemployment Compensation Benefits.
4. Any reference to trade custom, industry codes and standards.
Defendants concede that categories one and two should be granted. We will proceed, therefore, to a consideration of the remaining areas of inquiry. Since the fourth and fifth categories are offered for the same purpose we will examine the admissibility of industry standards and of government regulations as one issue.
Admissibility of Circumstances Surrounding Termination of Plaintiff's Employment for Safety Violation
In advancing their assumption of risk defense, Defendants intend to produce evidence to show that Plaintiff knew of safety rules and regulations warning against placing his hands into any moving parts of machinery, that he had been instructed as to proper operating procedures for his machine, and that he was aware of the danger of placing his hand or arm in the die space. Defendants further seek to introduce testimony as to Plaintiff's alleged violation of his employer's safety rules, which allegedly led to his being fired. They contend that reference to a finding of fact by the Bureau of Employment Security rejecting this defense is irrelevant. Plaintiff acknowledges that assumption of risk is an appropriate defense in a products liability action, Ferraro v. Ford Motor Co., 423 Pa. 324, 223 A.2d 746 (1966), but he asserts that the evidence is insufficient as a matter of law to meet the Defendants' burden of proof.
In Ferraro v. Ford Motor Co., 423 Pa. 324, 223 A.2d 746 (1966) the Pennsylvania Supreme Court followed the Restatement (Second) of Torts in permitting an assumption of risk defense to a strict liability action. Id. at 327-38, 223 A.2d ...
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