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BROOKS v. OUTBOARD MARINE CORPORATION

March 29, 1999

WILLIAM BROOKS, AS PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN OF MATTHEW BROOKS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OUTBOARD MARINE CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Skretny, District Judge.

ORDER

1. By Order filed with the Clerk of the Court on October 28, 1997, this Court referred this case to the Honorable Carol E. Heckman, United States Magistrate Judge, to hear and report on all dispositive motions and directed Magistrate Judge Heckman to issue a Report and Recommendation to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).

2. On May 26, 1998, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.

3. By Report and Recommendation filed October 22, 1998, Magistrate Judge Heckman recommended that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment be denied, finding that Defendant's motion was premature in several respects and that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment.

4. On November 10, 1998, Defendant filed objections to the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Heckman.

5. On January 21, 1999, this Court heard oral argument on Defendant's objections to the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Heckman.

6. This Court has carefully reviewed Magistrate Judge Heckman's Report and Recommendation and thoroughly considered the pleadings and materials submitted by the parties, as augmented by oral argument before this Court, under the standards set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, and the relevant case law.

IT HEREBY IS ORDERED that this Court accepts Magistrate Judge Heckman's Report and Recommendation in its entirety, including the authorities cited and the reasons given therein, and that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

FURTHER, counsel for the parties shall appear before this Court on Wednesday, April 21, 1999, at 9:00 a.m. in Part IV, United States Courthouse, 68 Court Street, Buffalo, New York for a status conference.

FURTHER, out-of-town counsel may appear at this status conference by telephone provided that they contact my chambers at (716) 551-3086 with a telephone number at which they may be reached for the conference by 4:00 p.m. on Monday, April 19, 1999.

SO ORDERED.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND ORDER

This case was referred to the undersigned by the Hon. William M. Skretny for pretrial matters, and to hear and report on dispositive motions, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). Defendant Outboard Marine Corporation has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that defendant's motion be denied.

BACKGROUND

On November 11, 1996, plaintiff William Brooks filed the complaint in this action on behalf of his minor son Matthew Brooks against Harry Klopp (d/b/a Harry's Boat Shop), Andrew Scott May and Outboard Marine for damages sustained by Matthew as a result of an accident which occurred on June 25, 1996 (Item 1). Jurisdiction was based on diversity of citizenship. On January 16, 1998, a stipulation of discontinuance was filed dismissing the action against non-diverse defendants Klopp and May, leaving Outboard Marine as the sole remaining defendant (Item 42).

The complaint sets forth the following causes of action against Outboard Marine:

1. Strict products liability;

  2. Breach of implied warranty of fitness for a
  particular purpose;

3. Negligent design;

4. Failure to warn; and,

5. Manufacturing defect.

The complaint does not contain any specific allegations about the details of the accident, nor does it identify any specific defect in the design of the outboard motor. Instead, the details of plaintiff's claims have emerged during the course of discovery, and the undisputed facts are as follows:

On June 25, 1996, Theresa Brooks drove her 14-year-old son Matthew and his 15-year-old friend Andrew May to Harry's Bait Shop, located on Old Orchard Creek in Waterport, New York, to rent a boat for the boys to go fishing. Ms. Brooks rented a 14-foot aluminum boat equipped with an Evinrude six-horsepower outboard motor from Harry Klopp at Harry's bait Shop. Matthew and Andrew set out in the boat unsupervised.

Not long after they set out, Matthew's fishing line became entangled in the propeller of the boat's outboard motor. Matthew, who had been running the outboard, wrapped his fishing line around his right hand several times to get a better grip on the line, and reached down into the water in an attempt to free the line from the propeller. ...


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