Bexiga v. Havir Manufacturing Corp.
60 N.J. 402, 290 A.2d 281 (1972)

  • Bexiga (a minor) worked at Regina’s factory. He got his hand caught in a “power punch press” and was injured. He sued Havir, the manufacturer of the machine.
    • There were no safety devices on the machine to stop someone from putting their hand in it.
    • Safety devices existed for the machine, but Havir didn’t use them.
  • The Trial Court found for Havir and dismissed the case. Bexiga appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that Bexiga was contributorily negligent.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed the decision to dismiss the case. Bexiga appealed.
  • The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for trial.
    • The New Jersey Supreme Court found that, as a matter of law, contributory negligence is not available as a defense in cases where policy or justice dictate.
    • The Court felt it would be anomalous to hold that the defendant has a duty to install safety devices but a breach of duty results in no liability for the very injury the duty was meant to protect against.
    • Therefore, the case must go to a jury, it couldn’t be dismissed for contributory negligence.
  • Under today’s law, this case would be settled under Workman’s Comp Statutes.
    • Contributory negligence by the worker is not a factor for deciding worker’s comp liability.
    • There is no right to sue an employer for negligence under workman’s comp.
    • The worker cannot recover for all damages. So there is still a reason to find someone to sue if you want to recover for things not covered by workman’s comp. For example, pain and suffering is not covered.