David Randolph Smith

Products Liabilty: Crashworthiness

In Harsh v. Petroll (General Motors), 2003WL22902563 (Pa. Cmwlth., Dec. 10, 2003) the court held that compliance with a federal motor vehicle safety regulation for fuel tank safety was irrelavant in a product laibility case based upon a crashworthiness theory.
In Grimes v. Mazda North American Operations, 2004 WL 63417 (6th Cir.(Ky.), Jan 13, 2004) the Plaintiff introduced evidence from persons involved in other accidents where the seat belt latch in the vehicle was defective. The district court ruled that such evidence could be used only for the purpose of providing notice to the manufacturer of a possible defect, not as evidence that the product was defective. The Sixth Circuit held the trial court correctly ruled on this point. But, even if there were error, the error had no effect. The jury returned a special verdict that plaintiff was not wearing her seatbelt and that this, not design defect, may have been a cause of her injury.