Recall Letters

 

Plaintiff Harry Hazelton sues for Defendant Snow-King Snowmobile Company and its local dealer, Ames Outdoor Recreation, Inc. for personal injuries sustained when his Snow-King snowmobile suddenly accelerated rapidly, went out of control, and hit a stone wall. He alleges that the throttle became stuck in the open position because of a defect in the design or construction of the throttle linkage cable.

Six months before the accident in which Harry was injured Snow-King Snowmobile had issued a "Customer Notice" advising owners of certain models of Snow-King snowmobiles (including Harry's) of a slight tendency for the throttle linkage to stick, which could be dangerous in certain situations, and requesting each owner to bring his machine to an authorized Snow King dealer for free installation of a replacement throttle linkage assembly.

As Harry's lawyer, what use can you make of this recall letter as evidence in Harry's case? Assume that it can be proved that Harry received a copy of this letter when it was issued and Snow King offers it on the issue of Harry's contributory or comparative negligence. What ruling, and why?

Now assume that the letter was issued after Harry's accident, but before the present suit was brought. Is the ruling different? Should it be?



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