Morgan v. Biro

474 N.E.2d 286 (Ohio 1984).


Facts: Morgan got his arm chopped over by a meat grinder made by Biro.  The meat grinder had been in service for 20 years and had been modified by having a protective guard removed by one of the owners of the grinder.  Morgan sued for personal injuries in Ohio.  Biro argued that Morgan’s suit was barred by Kentucky statute.  The trial court granted Biro summary judgment on this basis.  Morgan appealed and the court of appeals affirmed the judgment.  Morgan then appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.


Issue: Does Ohio law or Kentucky law apply to the facts of the case?


Rule: NEW RULE!  The court abandons the old rule of “lex loci delicti” (“the law of the place where the tort was committed”) in favor of a balancing test weighing the following factors: (1) where the injury happened, (2) where the misdeed that caused the injury happened, (3) where the parties are from, (4) where the relationship between the parties is, and (5) additional factors (“section 6”).


Analysis: The court finds that Kentucky has far greater contacts to the case than Ohio, whose only connection to the lawsuit is that the product was made in Ohio by an Ohio company.  Therefore, Kentucky law applies, and under that law, recovery is barred.


The minority finds that the factors in Section 6 tip the scale towards the application of Ohio law.


Conclusion: The lower courts’ judgments are upheld.


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