New Massachusetts Law Based on China Escalator Injury

Many Boston department stores use escalators for their customers’ convenience. One Massachusetts child suffered a severe and permanent hand injury when riding on an escalator in China. And the Massachusetts Appeals Court, sitting in Boston, decided that a United States company was legally responsible for the injury suffered by the child. The Boston Law Office of Neil Burns handles child injuries and injuries to children that happen in and around Boston.

This case presented an issue of first impression in Massachusetts regarding the “apparent manufacturer” doctrine. In the case, the Appeals Court held that under the “apparent manufacture” doctrine, a licensor who participates substantially in the design, manufacture or distribution of the licensee’s product can be deemed legally responsible.
In the case decided by the Appeals Court, a Massachusetts boy was injured while visiting his grandparents in China when his hand got stuck in the escalator. The escalator was not sold by the United States company, but by a company in China under a license from the United States company.
The Court held that even though the United States company did not directly sell the product, that “When a company like the defendant is integrally involved in putting the product into the stream of commerce as its product, it is not a sensible defense for them to say that they didn’t sell the machine and therefore are not responsible for it.” In addition, a company puts out a product as its own when it affixes its legally protected trademark to it. Here, the United States company had its logo prominently displayed at the top and bottom of the escalator.
The case is Lou, et al v. Otis Elevator Co., (Appeals Court) Docket No. 09-P-632 (Sept. 3, 2010).