New York Failure to Warn Claims Where Plaintiff Had Prior Experience in Using the Product
Courts have dismissed failure to warn claims where the plaintiff had prior experience in using the product, and thus knew of its dangers. For example, in Felle v. W.W. Grainger, Inc. (302 AD2d 971, 755 N.Y.S.2d 535 [4th Dept 2003]), the plaintiff was injured while using a grinder (id. at 972).
There, the Court dismissed plaintiff's failure to warn claims, because he had seven years of experience using a grinder and should have appreciated the dangers of placing his face in proximity to a rapidly rotating and completely unguarded split or hinged sanding wheel (id.).
Further, in DePasquale v. Morbark Indus., Inc. (221 AD2d 409, 633 N.Y.S.2d 543 [2d Dept 1995]), the manufacturer was not liable on a failure to warn theory where the plaintiff was injured when his left leg was caught in the feed wheels of a chipping machine (id. at 409-10).
The Court found that the danger of injury if one's leg were to come in contact with feed wheels was obvious and plaintiff knew that he could be injured if his limbs were caught in the wheels (id.).
Where however the user is young or inexperienced with a machine, the issue of whether the danger is obvious cannot be decided as a matter of law (Doty v. Navistar Intern. Transp. Corp, 219 AD2d 32, 639 N.Y.S.2d 592 [4th Dept 1996] [danger that slowly revolving auger with protruding screws would ensnare nine year old plaintiff's clothing and tear off his arm was not readily discernible to plaintiff who could not be classified as a knowledgeable user]).