The opinion of the court was delivered by: CONABOY
This products liability/personal injury case grew out of an injury the Plaintiff received when he was thrown about the cab of the truck he was driving as an employee of Roadway Express, Inc.
The truck (tractor) involved was manufactured and produced by White Trucks, a division of White Motor Corporation (hereinafter White) -- and the Plaintiff's theory was a defective design of the cab. As a bankrupt, White was eventually dismissed from the lawsuit. Plaintiff proceeded against Volvo White Truck Corporation (hereinafter Volvo White) on the successor corporate liability theory.
In a Memorandum and Order of October 15, 1985, this Court denied Volvo White's motion for summary judgment on the successor corporation liability theory, holding that certain facts necessary to that determination were in dispute.
As the case proceeded, the parties agreed to a bifurcation of the issues for trial -- and further agreed that this Court would try the issue of successor corporate liability of Volvo White non jury. The trial on the remaining issues of liability and damages was to be tried by a jury.
On January 28 and 29, 1986, a bench trial of the issue of successor corporate liability was held, and on February 6, 1986 this Court found in favor of the Plaintiffs and directed that judgment on that issue be entered in favor of the Plaintiffs and against Volvo White. The matter then proceeded to a jury trial on the remaining issues.
What follows is the Court's rationale and factual findings on the issue tried non jury.
1. For decades White included a division which manufactured and produced large trucks known as tractors which are used to haul trailers in commercial activity on long distance runs.
2. White had other divisions which were involved in a variety of businesses apart from the trucking business.
3. In September of 1980 White filed a petition for reorganization with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
4. With approval of the bankruptcy court, A.B. Volvo, a Swedish Corporation, purchased the truck manufacturing facilities of the bankrupt White Motor Corporation on September 1, 1981.
5. To carry on this new business a new corporation known as Volvo-White Truck Corporation was established by A.B. Volvo.
6. While White had five facilities in the United States at which it manufactured and produced tractors, at the time of its purchase by A.B. Volvo only three ...