The Kansas Supreme Court has determined that a plaintiff injured when using a hay baler that his father purchased secondhand may pursue a strict liability action against the seller. Gaumer v. Rossville Truck & Tractor Co., Inc., No. 99,990 (Kan., decided August 12, 2011). So ruling, the court affirmed a court of appeals decision allowing the action and remanded the case for further proceedings.
According to the Kansas Supreme Court, the state’s product liability law is based on a model act that excludes most sellers of used goods from the definition of “product sellers.” The Kansas Legislature did not include that language when it adopted the law and, in fact, included within the definition of “product seller” “any person or entity that is engaged in the business of selling products, whether the sale is for resale, or for use or consumption.” The court considers its own precedent, cases and statutes from other jurisdictions, and policy issues to conclude that strict liability may be applied against a seller of used products. It further observes, that a statutory defense which insulates a product seller from liability “if it can prove that it lacked knowledge of a product’s defect, lacked a duty to inspect or complied with such a duty, and that the manufacturer is solvent and susceptible to jurisdiction,” will adequately protect product re-sellers.