MacPherson v. Buick

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MacPherson v. Buick
Court Court of Appeals of New York
Date decided 1916-3-14


MacPherson bought his Buick Model 10 car for $900 in 1908 ($30,300 in 2023); the dealer had bought the car directly from Buick.

In July 1911, MacPherson was driving his car at 8 mi/h when his left rear wheel collapsed. His car spun out of control & he was injured. The cause of the wheel collapse was defective wood. Buick had purchased the wheel from a supplier. Apparently, Buick hadn't inspected the wheel before selling the car to the dealer.

Procedural History

MacPherson sued Buick, the automobile manufacturer, in a NY state court.

MacPherson lost, but the NY Appellate Division reversed the decision.

At the 2nd trial, MacPherson won a judgment of $5,000.


Does the manufacturer of a product owe a duty of care to anyone other than the initial purchaser?


Yes. The manufacturer of a product owes a duty of care to users than the initial purchaser (here the car dealership).


Duty of care for car manufacturers extends to later users if:

  1. the product is reasonably likely to create a danger if it's negligently manufactured
  2. the product will be used by people other than the original purchaser & without additional testing.
This is a modification of the rule of privity which states that the manufacturer only has a duty of care to the 1st purchaser (the dealership).