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Dobbelaere v. Cosco


HADLEY, Judge.

Plaintiffs/appellants, Sandra and Michael Dobbelaere (hereinafter known collectively as "Dobbelaere"), appeal the judgment of the Paulding County Common Pleas Court granting the motions for summary judgment of defendants, Cosco, Inc., Dorel U.S.A., Inc., Kidde Industries, Inc. ("Kidde"), Tractor Supply Co. ("TSC"), MTD Products, Inc. ("MTD"). and Aircap Industries Corp. ("AIC").

On August 5, 1992, Sandra Dobbelaere was injured while cutting grass. The head of a brush cutter flew off its shaft, striking her left ankle. The only decipherable manufacturer's label affixed to the brush cutter at the time of the incident read:

At the time Dobbelaere was injured, K&S;Industries ("K&S;) was a dissolved Delaware corporation. Because of the frequent sale of assets between corporations dealing with the K&S;product line, we will attempt to introduce the corporate parties in this litigation in a chronological order.

In 1978, K&S;incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Kidde. In February 1983, Kidde sold the K&S;product line to Cosco. On August 15, 1984, Cosco made a report to the Consumer Products Safety Commission addressing a characteristic defect in the Model TA 1200 brush cutter. As a result of that report, certain parts (i.e., blade holder, shaft attachment, and the plastic head) underwent a design change. Dobbelaere's injuries are unrelated to the defect appearing in the report to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

In January 1985, Cosco sold the K&S;product line to Aircap Industries, Inc. ("Aircap"). In the purchase agreement between Cosco and Aircap, Aircap agreed to assume all liabilities of the K&S;product line except liabilities arising out of the defect reported to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Aircap held the K&S;product line until June 3, 1986. On that date, Aircap sold its assets, including the K&S;product line to AIC and MTD (where referred to collectively, AIC and MTD will be known as the "MTD defendants"). The MTD defendants agreed to assume the liabilities of Aircap. These liabilities included the liability Aircap assumed regarding the K&S;brush cutter.

On August 12, 1986, two months after the MTD defendants purchased the K&S;product line, Dobbelaere's father purchased the brush cutter that is the subject of this litigation from TSC in Defiance, Ohio. The accident occurred six years later on August 5, 1992.

The record shows that the brush cutter that injured Dobbelaere was manufactured by either Cosco after August 15, 1984 or Aircap before it sold its assets to the MTD defendants on June 3, 1986.

Dobbelaere filed suit against Cosco, Dorel, U.S.A., Inc., Kidde (where referred to collectively, Cosco, Dorel, and Kidde will be known as the "Cosco defendants"), K&S; TSC, and John Does One and Two in July 1994. The complaint sounded in actions for negligence, strict liability and breach of warranty. Essentially, Dobbelaere alleged that either the Cosco defendants, K&S; or a John Doe manufactured the product that caused the injury. The claim against TSC was one of seller's liability pursuant to R.C. 2307.78(B).

In February 1995, TSC filed a third-party complaint naming Aircap and the MTD defendants as third-party defendants, and sought joint and several indemnity and contribution from the third-party defendants. TSC also filed a cross-claim against the Cosco defendants, Hanson Industries, Hanson Corporation, and K&S;for joint and several indemnity and contribution from these parties.

After limited discovery and the f

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