time-frame after the drill bit caught on the hole Brantner had drilled as he was trying to enlarge it, and contend that the post-sale alteration of the chuck and drill bit are irrelevant to the severity of Brantner's injury, since the motor in the drill would produce the same 15 foot-pounds of torque regardless of the size of the bit. Plaintiffs' Memorandum at 5; id., Exhibit D, Kotler letter of July 20, 1993 at 2. Although it is clear that an alteration is only a substantial modification to the extent that it would have been a superseding cause of the injury, Thompson v. Motch & Merryweather Machinery Co., 358 Pa. Super. 149, 516 A.2d 1226, 1229 (1986), plaintiffs' focus is too narrow. The happening of the accident cannot be compartmentalized into one portion as to which plaintiffs have favorable expert testimony, i.e., the feasibility of a design that would have mitigated the injury to Brantner, and another portion as to which their expert and the defendant's experts are unfavorable, i.e. the likelihood that this accident would have happened in the first place.
There is no question, even to a weekend do-it-yourselfer, that changing chucks and bits on a power drill can substantially alter its performance. Defendants' experts opine that using the larger chuck and bit greatly increased the probability that the drill would bind. See Defendant's Supplemental Pretrial Statement, docket no. 22, Saffell letter of July 2, 1993; Schwalje letter of June 24, 1993 at 2. Plaintiffs' expert agreed that changing chucks and bits "can influence the tendency of a tool to bind." Plaintiffs' Memorandum, Exhibit D, Kotler letter of July 20, 1993 at 2.
Plaintiffs' argument, Plaintiffs' Memorandum at 6-7, that the advertisement that this model contained "extra chuck capacity" means that part of the intended use of the drill was to use larger chucks is plainly a strained, self-serving reading of Exhibit E. The advertisement for this drill, which plaintiffs do not quote fully, states "90% POWER INCREASE coupled with extra chuck capacity make this the perfect drill for general-purpose, 'odd-job' work." In common understanding, this is not a statement that larger chucks can be attached to this drill, but rather a statement that this drill has greater chuck capacity than its competitors or predecessors. The same observation can be made about the claim of a 90% power increase. By plaintiffs' reasoning, an auxiliary power device that overloads the drill by up to 90% would also be an intended use.
There is some slight evidence that using larger chucks on the Black & Decker drill was foreseeable. See Kotler letter of July 20, 1993. Plaintiffs' expert conclusorily states that use of the larger chucks and bits is common practice, and gives as a sole supportive example the current availability of a domestic Black & Decker 1/2" bit adapted to fit a 3/8" chuck marketed for a 1/4" Black & Decker drill. Plaintiffs present no evidence that alteration of the drill Brantner was using was foreseeable as of 1960 when the product left the manufacturer's control.
The foreseeability of misuse or alteration of a product, in either case, is part of the analysis of a negligence action, not a products liability action. See Griggs v. BIC Corp., 981 F.2d 1429, 1433 (3d Cir.1992) citing Berkebile v. Brantly Helicopter Corp., 462 Pa. 83, 337 A.2d 893, 900 (1975). In Griggs, the Court of Appeals soundly repudiated the argument raised by plaintiffs, whose child had been injured in a fire caused by a child's misuse of a disposable lighter manufactured by BIC, that because it was common knowledge that children misused disposable lighters, a lighter's "intended use" as that term is employed in the Azzarello standard encompassed the foreseeable misuse.
It must be acknowledged that there are several Pennsylvania Superior Court decisions which broadly state that alterations or misuses of a product are part of its intended use unless those alterations or misuses are not reasonably foreseeable. See Sweitzer v. Dempster Systems, 372 Pa.Super. 449, 539 A.2d 880, 882 (1988); Eck v. Powermatic Houdaille, 364 Pa. Super. 178, 527 A.2d 1012, 1018 (1987); see also Burch v. Sears Roebuck and Co., 320 Pa. Super. 444, 467 A.2d 615, 619 (1983). However, even accepting plaintiffs' interpretation of these cases, this Court is bound by the Court of Appeals' and Pennsylvania Supreme Court's interpretation of Pennsylvania law and not by the Superior Court's. See e.g. Guzzardi v. Williams, 875 F.2d 46, 51 (3d Cir.1989) (discussing continuing viability of cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress).
Griggs is faithful to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's consistent separation of the issues of negligence from those of strict liability, and its recognition that foreseeability has no place in the determination of a product defect. For instance, in Jacobini v. V.& O.Press Co., 527 Pa. 32, 588 A.2d 476 (1991), the Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court and reinstated a directed verdict in favor of Danly Machine Corporation. Danly was sued on a theory of strict liability after an injury to a worker using a power press, because it was the manufacturer of a die set, a component part of the power press. The cause of the injury was the lack of a barrier guard on the power press, and the Superior Court had held that liability could be attributed to Danly on the basis that its die sets did not contain sufficient warnings that they should only be incorporated into power presses with barrier guards. The Supreme Court stated
Danly cannot be expected to foresee every possible risk that might be associated with use of the completed product, the die, which is manufactured by another party, and to warn of dangers in using that completed product in yet another party's finished product, the power press. To recognize a potential for liability through such a chain of responsibility would carry the component part manufacturer's liability to an unwarranted and unreasonable extreme.