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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:About two months before the fire that damaged the plaintiffs’ property, Calvin Otte purchased a new Hewlett-Packard printer/fax machine from a retail merchant in Los Angeles. The printer arrived in a sealed box and was undamaged when delivered to Otte. Following the instructions provided with the printer, Otte unpacked and set up the printer in his office. He placed it on the left end of the credenza behind his desk, near the box housing his computer’s central processing unit (CPU). He plugged the printer into a power strip and placed the printer’s power supply cord on the floor beneath the printer. The printer performed without apparent problem until the fire. No one ever spilled anything on the printer and it was never repaired, serviced or modified. According to Otte’s affidavit, the printer was the only electrical device on the credenza that was plugged in, and the printer power supply was the only electrical device at floor level behind, beneath or beside the credenza near the printer. About two months after Otte purchased the printer, a fire broke out in Otte’s office. The fire occurred on a Saturday morning. No one was in the office at the time. The fire damaged Otte’s office and other offices in the building. The printer was severely damaged in the fire. Shaun T. Mian Corp., doing business as Midway Tower, Irving L. Humphrey and Otte (appellants) sued HP for damages caused by the fire, alleging the printer was defectively designed, manufactured and marketed and that it caused the fire. The appellants also alleged HP was negligent in designing, manufacturing and marketing the printer. After discovery was completed, HP filed a combined traditional and no-evidence motion for summary judgment on the appellants’ products liability and negligence claims. In its motion, HP contended appellants had no evidence: 1. of a defect in the printer or that it caused the fire; 2. that the fire would normally not have occurred in the absence of negligence; and 3. that the instrumentality causing the injury was under HP’s control. In response to HP’s no-evidence summary judgment motion, the appellants presented the affidavit of Otte and the depositions of their two experts on fire origin and cause: Captain Martinez of the Dallas Fire Department and Edward Roberts, a private fire-origin-and-cause investigator. HP’s motion also asserted that its summary judgment evidence proved as a matter of law that the printer could not have caused the fire. In support of its traditional motion for summary judgment, HP presented the affidavit and report of Donald Galler, its electrical engineering expert; and portions of depositions presented by the appellants. The trial court granted HP’s motion for summary judgment. The appellants timely perfected their appeal. HOLDING:Affirmed in part, reversed and remanded in part. After affirming the dismissal of the appellants’ negligence and design- and marketing-defect claims on grounds that the appellants essentially did not address the claims in their appeal, the court assessed the appellants’ manufacturing-defect cause of action and looked at whether the trial court properly granted summary judgment. The tort of products liability, the court stated, imposes strict liability on the manufacturer of an unreasonably dangerous product that is a producing cause of a plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff must prove the product was defective when it left the hands of the manufacturer and that the defect was a producing cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. A manufacturing defect exists “when a product deviates, in its construction or quality, from the specifications or planned output in a manner that renders it unreasonably dangerous.” Proof of a product failure, standing alone, is not sufficient to raise a fact question as to whether the product was defective or that it was defective when it left the hands of the manufacturer, the court stated. In such suits, the evidence is sufficient to avoid summary judgment when, viewing all the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and indulging every reasonable inference and resolving any doubts against the motion, more than a scintilla of probative evidence exists as to whether: 1. the product was defective when it left the hands of the manufacturer; and 2. the defect was a producing cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Both direct and circumstantial evidence can be used to meet this burden, the court stated. For circumstantial evidence to support an inference that the product was defective, however, it must provide a reasonable basis for concluding the injury would not ordinarily have occurred absent a defect, the court stated. In addition, for circumstantial evidence to support an inference that the defect existed when it left the manufacturer, it must do more than raise the possibility that the defective condition could have existed at that time. Moreover, for circumstantial evidence to support inferences that a product was defective and the defect existed at the time it left the manufacturer, the evidence need not disprove all other possible causes for the injury. And finally, a number of inferences may be drawn from a single fact situation. Viewing all the summary judgment evidence in the light most favorable to appellants, the court found that reasonable fact-finders could differ in their conclusions as to whether the fire started in the printer. Office printers � especially new or nearly new printers that have not been damaged or abused � do not ordinarily catch fire absent a product defect. The record showed the printer was new and had not been altered or repaired by third parties, the court stated. From this and the other evidence in the record, reasonable fact-finders could differ in their conclusions as to whether the printer was defective and whether the defect probably existed at the time it left the manufacturer. Thus, the court found that reasonable minds could differ in their conclusions as to whether the defect was a producing cause of the appellants’ injuries. The court noted evidence that the printer was the only device located on the credenza that was plugged in. The court concluded that sufficient evidence existed from which reasonable fact-finders might reach differing conclusions as to whether the fire started in the printer. Accordingly, the court found that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment based on the no-evidence motion. In addition, the court concluded that HP did not meet its summary judgment burden of negating as a matter of law an essential element of appellants’ cause of action. OPINION:Moseley, J.; Morris, Moseley and FitzGerald, JJ.

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