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O'HEARN v. SIMPSON TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania


April 22, 2004.

TIMOTHY O'HEARN, Plaintiff,
v.
SIMPSON TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION, a/k/a NATIONAL ENGINEERING CO., and METALCAST SYSTEMS, INC., Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEGROME DAVIS, District Judge

ORDER

AND NOW, this day of April, 2004, upon consideration of Defendant-Cross-Claim Defendant Metalcast Systems, Inc.'s ("Metalcast") Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 15), IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that said Motion is GRANTED. IT IS HEREBY FURTHER ORDERED that judgment is entered in favor of Metalcast and against Plaintiff Timothy O'Hearn and Defendant-Cross-Claim Defendant Simpson Technologies Corporation ("Simpson").

Neither Plaintiff nor Simpson opposed Metalcast's Motion, which was filed on January 23, 2004. "Any party opposing [a] motion shall serve a brief in opposition . . . within fourteen (14) days after service of the motion. . . . In the absence of a timely response, the motion may be granted as uncontested except that a summary judgment motion, to which there has been no timely response, will be governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)." Local R. Civ. P. 7.1(c).

  Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment is appropriate when "there is no genuine issue of material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986). The moving party bears the burden of showing that the record discloses no genuine issues as to any material fact and that he or she is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1608 (1970). Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-86, 106 S.Ct. 1348 (1986). There is a genuine issue for trial "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.

  Plaintiff alleges that Metalcast negligently installed the Simpson multi-cooler. See Compl. ¶¶ 30-33. The testimony of Victaulic's Corporate Metallurgist, David Sharkus, and Simpson's Manager of Engineering, Don Bergman, however, undermine this claim. See Deposition of Don Bergman ("Bergman Dep.") at 128-29; Deposition of David Sharkus ("Sharkus Dep.") at 92-94. Specifically, Mr. Sharkus and Mr. Bergman testified that they had no criticisms of Metalcast's installation of the multi-cooler. See Bergman Dep. at 128-29; Sharkus Dep. at 92-94.

  Plaintiff further alleges "that Metalcast was negligent for not bringing to the attention of Simpson and Victaulic that an interlock should be installed on the [multi-cooler's] access door." Report of Glenn Lund at 4. Although Plaintiff did not assert a negligence claim based on failure to warn in the Complaint,*fn1 the Court will nevertheless address the merits of his claim.

  In order to establish his negligent failure to warn claim against Metalcast, Plaintiff must prove the three elements of Section 388 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts: (1) that the defendant knew or had reason to know that the chattel was or likely would be dangerous for the use for which it was supplied; (2) that the defendant had no reason to believe that those for whose use the chattel was supplied would recognize the dangerous condition; and (3) that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care to inform those persons of the danger. See Overbeck v. Cates, 700 A.2d 970, 972 (Pa. Super. 1997). No evidence has been presented that Metalcast knew or had reason to know of the dangerousness of the multi-cooler.

  Moreover, the principles of a strict liability failure-to-warn claim are applicable to a failure-to-warn claim under a theory of negligence. See Shouey v. Duck Head Apparel Co., Inc., 49 F. Supp.2d 413, 420 n. 3 (M.D. Pa. 1999) (citing Baldino v. Castagna, 505 Pa. 239, 478 A.2d 807 (1984)); see also W. Page Keeton, et al., Prosser and Keeton on Torts § 99 at 697 (5th ed. 1984) ("Although [strict liability for failure to warn] is sometimes referred to as strict liability, it is really nothing more than a ground of negligence liability. . . ."). Strict liability does not extend to an installer of allegedly defective equipment where the installer has assumed no duty to conduct a safety analysis or notify the equipment's owner of the alleged defect. See Maloy v. Doty Conveyor, 820 F. Supp. 217, 220 (E.D. Pa. 1993).

  In the present case, neither Simpson nor Victaulic requested or expected any engineering or safety analysis from Metalcast regarding the design of the multi-cooler. See Bergman Dep. at 128-29; Sharkus Dep. at 89-90; see also Deposition of Alex Burgin, Exs. 1-4. Metalcast was simply hired by Victaulic to install the multi-cooler; it was not expected to provide a design and/or safety analysis of the equipment. See Deposition of Alex Burgin, Exs. 1-4. Accordingly, summary judgment in favor of Metalcast is appropriate. ORDER

  AND NOW, this day of April, 2004, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that in accordance with Rule 58 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, judgment be entered in favor of Defendant Metalcast Systems, Inc., and against Plaintiff Timothy O'Hearn.


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