Legal Memorandum: Industry Standards Applicable for Machinery

Issue: Under federal law as applied in New York, should a party be permitted to introduce industry standards for machinery substantially different from that involved in a personal injury?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Industry standards; Machinery; Substantially different
Jurisdiction: Federal, New York
Cited Cases: 901 F.Supp. 593
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 02/01/2001


At times, it may be helpful to “examine the industry standards applicable to the design and manufacture” of a machine in order to determine if the machine in question presented an unreasonable risk of harm.  See Del Cid v. Beloit Corp., 901 F.Supp. 593, 545 (E.D.N.Y. 1995), aff’d, 101 F.3d 1393 (2d Cir. 1996).  However, it is important to determine which standards are applicable to the machine in question.  See id.

In Del Cid, the experts differed as to the application of standards of the American National Standards Institute, Inc. to a dispute involving an injection molding machine.  Id. at 545.  A specific standard for horizontal injection molding machines existed, but a more general standard for “mechanical power transmission apparatus” arguably also applied.  After considerable discussion, the court determined that both standards applied.  Id. at 547.  The care the court took to determine the applicable standard illustrates the importance of applying only that standard that is actually relevant to the machine in question.

In comparison, the Sixth Circuit considered the question of applicable standards and upheld the exclusion of guidelines that were not standards within the industry.  See Grossheim v. Freightliner Corp., 974 F.2d 745, 754 (6th Cir. 1992).  In that case, the plaintiff sought to introduce the recommendations of a truck user group for design features for truck climbing systems.  The trial court ruled, and the appellate court agreed, that such evidence was irrelevant because there was no evidence that the industry had adopted […]

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