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Neither Successor Corporation Nor Component Manufacturer Owed Duty To Warn: Thornton v. M7 Aerospace LP

The estates of 15 people killed in the crash of a commuter airline filed negligence and strict liability claims against the successor to the airplane's manufacturer and against the manufacturer of the plane's warning system. The critical element for imposition of a duty on a successor is a continuing relationship between it and the predecessor's customers benefitting the successor. There was no evidence to establish that nexus, and therefore, the manufacturer was not liable. With respect to the component part manufacturer, plaintiff failed to produce evidence that its product was defective, and therefore, there was no duty to warn. Summary judgment was entered for the defendants.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment. There was not enough of a continuing relationship between the successor corporation and the original manufacturer that would justify imposition of a duty to warn. With respect to the component part manufacturer, the court said plaintiffs offered no evidence that its product was defectively designed or dangerous. As there was no evidence of a defect, it had no duty to warn. Thornton v. M7 Aerospace LP, No. 14-1707; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 13759 (7th Cir. Aug. 6, 2015).

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