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Krumm v. Bar Maid Corporation

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

June 18, 2013

Michael R. Krumm, Plaintiff,
v.
Bar Maid Corporation, Defendant.

ORDER

JOAN N. ERICKSEN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Michael Krumm ("Krumm") suffered injuries after receiving an electrical shock from contact with the Bar Maid A-200 electric glass washer. Krumm brought this action against Defendant Bar Maid Corporation ("Bar Maid"), asserting claims of strict products liability, negligence, breach of implied warranty, and breach of express warranty.[1] Now before the Court is Bar Maid's motion for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

The A-200, designed and manufactured by Bar Maid, is a machine that washes the inside and outside of glasses using five brushes powered by an electric motor. It is primarily used by bars and restaurants. The machine is designed to be partially submerged in water-the brushes that wash the glass are submerged below the water line, and the electric motor remains above the water line. The power switch is located on the metal housing, above the water line.

The A-200 includes several safety features that are intended to prevent water from contacting the machine's electrical components. According to Bar Maid, these features include:

• A raised lip and metal cover and gasket, to prevent water intrusion into the wiring compartment;
• A rubber switch cover that covers the on/off switch and is pressure fit onto the machine, to insulate the user from electric shock and prevent water from seeping into the motor housing;
• A splash guard on top of the motor housing that presses against the switch guard;
• A protective coating on the motor housing, under the splash cover;
• A rubber seal incorporated into the switch to prevent water intrusion; and
• A sealed lower bearing in the bottom of the motor.

The instruction manual for the A-200 instructs users that they must use ground fault protection, such as a GFCI outlet, when using the machine. This same warning also appears twice on the machine itself.

On October 22, 2007, Krumm was working as a bar manager at Axel's River Grill ("Axel's") in Mendota, Minnesota. Axel's used an A-200 in its bar area, and the machine was less than one year old. That day, a coworker informed Krumm that the A-200 was not working. Krumm attempted to turn on the machine by operating the on/off switch, at which time he received an electric shock. According to Krumm, the shock caused him to recoil and he was thrown backward into a stationary bar counter behind him. He alleges to have suffered injuries as a result of the shock and from the blunt force of contacting the stationary object when he was thrown back. After the incident, it was discovered that parts of the motor housing, including the on/off switch, were corroded. It was this corrosion that caused the electrical shock. It is undisputed that the A-200 was not plugged into a GFCI outlet or other form of ground fault protection at the time of the incident.

II. DISCUSSION

Summary judgment is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). To support an assertion that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed, a party must cite "to particular parts of materials in the record, " show "that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, " or show "that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A)-(B). "The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). In determining whether summary judgment is ...


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