Machine disassembly/reassembly is not design

While John A. Brough was operating a BC-3 blow-molding machine at the Owens-Brockway Plastic Products Inc. bottle-processing plant in Kansas City, the machine malfunctioned and crushed his left arm.

Brough v. Ort Tool & Die Corp., 149 S.W.3d 493 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Oct. 12, 2004, (Mo.App. 2004).


While John A. Brough was operating a BC-3 blow-molding machine at the Owens-Brockway Plastic Products Inc. bottle-processing plant in Kansas City, the machine malfunctioned and crushed his left arm.

Brough filed a product-liability suit against Ort Tool and Die Corp., arguing the company designed and manufactured the machine, including the allegedly defective interlock switch he claimed caused his injury. Ort denied manufacturing the machine and claimed Owens-Illinois, the parent company of Owens-Brockway, built it. Ort said it had disassembled the machine at Owens's plant in Texas for its move to the Kansas City plant. The machine was reassembled by Ort in Kansas City, under the direction and control of an Owens-Illinois employee.

Brough also sued Midwest Fluid and Power Co., asserting it negligently and defectively designed the hydraulic circuitry for the blow-molding machine. Midwest denied designing the circuitry, claiming it had been designed by Owens-Illinois.

Ort and Midwest asked the Missouri trial court to grant judgment for them before trial, which the court did. Brough appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, asserting he had a right to a jury trial to determine Ort's and Midwest's liability. According to the appeals court, Ort's disassembly and reassembly of the machine did not amount to "manufacturing" the machine, and did not subject Ort to liability for the machine's allegedly defective function.

As to Midway, although Brough asserted Midway had drawn a schematic of the machine circuitry at Owens-Illinois' request, the court concluded the company, a supplier of hydraulic circuitry, had not designed the circuitry, and Brough had not shown the company had designed the circuitry. Moreover, an Owens-IIlinois engineer testified that the circuitry in the Midway drawings was of Owens-Illinois design.

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