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154358 - Steven Iliades v Dieffenbacher North America

Steven Iliades and Jane Iliades,
Mark R. Bendure
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Oakland – Anderson, M.)
Dieffenbacher North America, Inc.,
Michelle A. Thomas


Plaintiff Steven Iliades was seriously injured at his place of employment when he partially climbed into a 500-ton rubber molding press machine without turning the machine off and was trapped when the machine cycled. He filed a lawsuit against defendant Dieffenbacher North America, Inc., the manufacturer of the machine, alleging negligence and breach of warranty. Defendant moved for summary disposition on the ground that it could not be held liable because plaintiff’s action of partially climbing into the machine constituted "misuse" of the machine that was not reasonably foreseeable. MCL 600.2945(e) (defining "misuse"); MCL 600.2947(2) (providing that a manufacturer is not liable for harm caused by misuse of a product unless the misuse was reasonably foreseeable). The trial court agreed with defendant and granted its motion for summary disposition. In an unpublished split decision, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the misuse in this case was reasonably foreseeable because employees were trained on a safety device to stop the machine from cycling and it was common for employees to stop the machine and reach into it to retrieve parts. The dissenting judge would have affirmed on the basis that the undisputed evidence showed that the misuse was unprecedented and therefore not reasonably foreseeable. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on plaintiff’s application for leave to appeal to address whether plaintiff’s conduct prior to being injured constituted misuse of the press machine that was reasonably foreseeable.