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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Mildred Davis worked on the moist sand division of a GM assembly line in Arlington. On March 19, 1998, Davis arrived at work and walked to her station. Instead of taking the catwalk, she attempted to cut through a gap in the conveyor table line. When she passed through the gap, the metal in her purse activated a “proximity switch,” which turned the conveyor line on automatically. The line suddenly moved forward, and a large frame (“skid”) carrying a truck body also moved forward, striking and trapping Davis. Davis filed suit against Conveyor-Matic Inc., who had designed and installed a manually operated conveyor system at the GM plant in 1989. She alleged strict products liability and negligence. Her husband, who also worked at the plant, asserted a cause of action for recovery as a bystander. Davis alleged that the conveyor system was capable of starting automatically without warning. She also alleged that the gap she walked through, while admittedly dangerous, did not have safety systems, interlocks or warning systems in place to prevent accidents. The system consisted of three tables that carried the skids and moved the trucks through the final paint inspection process. CEC Products redesigned the system in 1994 to lengthen the conveyor system. Conveyor-Matic said CEC added a proximity switch at the interface of two tables to make the function automatic, but Davis said it was Conveyor-Matic who first installed the switch. On motion for summary judgment, Conveyor-Matic contended that there was no defect because, at the time it designed the conveyor system, it could not start up automatically. It was a manual system and there was no proximity switch, Conveyor-Matic argued. As to Davis’ negligence claim, Conveyor-Matic argued that because its original conveyor system could not have started automatically, it was not foreseeable that an accident like Davis’ would occur or that the system would eventually be converted into an automatic system. Likewise, because it was manual, appellee had no duty to install any warnings, safety measures, alarms, pressure mats or safety interlocks. The trial court granted summary judgment for Conveyor-Matic, though it did not specify whether its order was based on the traditional or no-evidence summary judgment motion. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. The court first reviews Davis’ strict products liability claim, which rests on whether Conveyor-Matic designed, manufactured and installed the system with a defect, i.e., the proximity switch. Davis was required to prove that there was a safer alternative design and that the defect was a producing cause of her injury. Conveyor-Matic relied on testimony of Warren Stelzer, a GM employee and senior plant engineer, to negate Davis’ assertion that Conveyor-Matic included the switch in its original design. The court points out that Stelzer was not at GM when the system was originally installed. Stelzer relied on a blueprints provided him at his deposition to describe the system’s original design and function, but the blueprint was not included in the summary judgment evidence. He could not recall whether there was a proximity switch at the time, and though he oversaw the modification in 1994, he was not certain whether the switch was added at that time or if it already existed. Nonetheless, Stelzer positively stated that Conveyor-Matic did not install the switch. On the other hand, Davis presented testimony by Norbert Ulrich, Conveyor-Matic’s president in 1989 and at the time of the accident. He said the system, when installed, had proximity switches, “as did [systems by] CEC and anybody else because it’s in the GM spec.” The court rules that Ulrich’s testimony was more than a scintilla of probative evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the proximity switch was part of Conveyor-Matic’s original design and installation. The court also finds more than a scintilla of evidence that the proximity switch was the producing cause of the accident. The switch reacted to the metal in Davis’ purse and automatically activated the conveyor. “Because we hold that [Davis] presented more than a scintilla of evidence to raise a fact issue on whether the original conveyor system included a proximity switch, and because the existence of a proximity switch is the basis for at least some of [Davis'] negligence claims, we hold that they also raised an issue of material fact with regard to their negligence claims, res ipsa loquitor, respondeat superior, and bystander claims.” OPINION:Livingston, J.; Cayce, C.J., Livingston and Gardner, JJ.

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