A manufacturer and seller of a component part may not be liable under the Washington Product Liability Act where neither was responsible for the part’s modification or use in the design or assembly of a piece of machinery that caused injury. Sepulveda-Esquivel v. Central Machine Works, Inc., No. 29123-1-II, Court of Appeals of Washington, Division Two, Jan. 13, 2004.

Taurino Sepulveda-Esquivel suffered serious injuries during his employment at Vanalco when a piece of machinery fell on him. More specifically, a “bridge” secured to a crane by a hook fell when the crane operator lifted the bridge from a “pot.” A pot is a large machine used in the smelting of aluminum, approximately 10 feet tall, 18 feet long and 3 feet wide. A “bail,” which is a metal bar that looks like an inverted “V,” is welded to the top of the bridge. A metal latch called a “mouse” was designed by Vanalco’s predecessor to go over the hook’s mouth after the bail is in the hook. During the smelting of aluminum, a bridge is placed on to and around the top of a pot using an overhead crane and hook. Sepulveda was injured when the crane operator readjusted the bridge and the hook became loose from the bridge, causing the bridge to fall on Sepulveda. Sepulveda filed a products liability claim under the Washington Product Liability Act (WPLA) against Ulven, the manufacturer of the hook, and Central Machine Works, which supplied the hook to Vanalco.

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