The Nebraska Supreme Court in Kohler v. Ford Motor Co. held that a manufacturer was strictly liable in tort when an article he placed in the market had a defect causing an injury to a human being rightfully using that product. This very restrictive statement of the strict tort theory left open the question of whether in Nebraska the doctrine would be extended to allow recovery for damage to property. The Restatement (Second) of Torts section 402A explicitly provides that a plaintiff may recover in strict tort for physical harm to his property. Many cases from jurisdictions other than Nebraska have held in accord with the Restatement. The Nebraska Supreme Court in Hawkins Construction Co. v. Matthews Co. addressed this important question that had been left unanswered in Kohler. The majority opinion in Hawkins subdivided property damage cases into two categories—cases where the defective product causes damage to itself and cases where the defective product causes damage to other property. It is clear from Hawkins that in Nebraska damage to the defective product itself is not recoverable in strict tort. Recovery on such claims is to be governed exclusively by the warranty provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code. Whether strict tort recovery for damage to other property is permitted depends on which of two alternative interpretations Hawkins is given. This Casenote analyzes the court's effort to determine the applicability of strict tort theories to property damage claims.
Property Damage Caused by Defective Products: Strict Tort Recovery: Hawkins Construction Co. v. Matthews Co., 190 Neb. 546, 209 N.W.2d 643 (1973),
53 Neb. L. Rev. 114
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol53/iss1/7