Articles Posted in Defective Products

While most Texas motor vehicle collisions arise out of negligent driving, some are caused by defective vehicles. People harmed in crashes caused by unsafe cars have the right to pursue product liability claims against the vehicle manufacturer, but, pursuant to Texas’s statute of repose pertaining to product liability claims, they must do so within 15 years of the date of the sale of the vehicle. If a defendant cannot establish the date of sale, they most likely cannot challenge a product liability claim as untimely, as demonstrated in Jennifer Parks et al. v. Ford Motor Company (No. 05-21-00632-CV), an opinion recently delivered by a Texas court. If you suffered harm in an accident caused by an unsafe vehicle, you might be able to recover damages from the company that manufactured the vehicle, and it is in your best interest to confer with a Texas car accident attorney.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent was involved in a collision in May 2014 while driving a vehicle manufactured by the defendant. Subsequently, in May 2016, the plaintiff, as guardian of the decedent’s estate, and several other plaintiffs filed a product liability lawsuit against the defendant. In part, they alleged that the design of the subject vehicle, which was a 2001 model, rendered it unsafe because it was prone to rollovers and the strength of the roof was insufficient to withstand crashes.

Reportedly, the defendant set forth numerous affirmative defenses, including the assertion that the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the statute of repose for product liability claims. Following discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment pursuant to the statute of repose, which demands that product liability claims must be pursued within 15 years of the defendant’s sale of the product. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiffs appealed. Continue Reading

East Texas car accident cases can sometimes involve issues beyond the typical “which driver was at fault” or “how much is the case worth” questions. For instance, sometimes the defendant in the case is not a driver at all, but instead a manufacturer of an automobile or component part. In these situations, jurisdiction and venue may be disputed, especially if the accident happened somewhere other than the county – or even the country – in which the lawsuit was filed.Facts of the Case

In a case recently considered on appeal (No. 08-17-00119-CV; Court of Appeals for the Eighth District of Texas), the court of appeals described the facts as “a variation on a familiar theme” in law school textbooks. It analyzed whether the defendant, an out-of-state tire manufacturer that had allegedly targeted Texas as a marketplace and sold products extensively here, could be brought into a Texas court to answer a claim of product liability for an accident that occurred when the plaintiffs, all Texas residents, were traveling in Mexico.

Decision of the Court

East Texas car accidents can happen for many different reasons. In most multi-vehicle cases, a wreck is caused by the negligence of one or both of the drivers – speeding, distracted driving, and driving while intoxicated are all common causes of motor vehicle accidents. In a single-vehicle accident, a driver may be at fault, but this is not always so. There could have been another factor, such as a defect in the automobile, a dangerous road (possibly due to improper maintenance), or an obstacle caused by a third party.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in a recent appellate court case (No. 09-16-00280-CV; Court of Appeals for the Ninth District of Texas) were the heirs of a woman who was killed in 2006 when an allegedly defective tire on a 1995 Ford Explorer in which she was riding caused an accident. The decedent and her heirs were all residents of Mexico, and the accident happened in Mexico.

On average, approximately 3,500 to 4,00o people lose their lives in Texas car accidents each year. Tens of thousands more are seriously injured. The cause of a crash may be obvious (such as a speeding driver running a stop sign), or a lengthy investigation may be required in order to discover the cause of a wreck.

Usually, it is the negligence of one driver or another that causes a motor vehicle collision, but sometimes other factors – such as a defective tire or automotive component – can result in a wreck.

Facts of the Case

Most people have heard the term “statute of limitations” and are aware that the plaintiff in an east Texas car accident case has only a certain amount of time in which to file a lawsuit against the responsible party.

The term “statute of repose” may be less familiar, but this law can further limit the time for filing a claim in certain situations, including a product liability action for injuries suffered in an automobile accident due to a defective or unreasonably dangerous vehicle.

A plaintiff who does not file a claim within both the statute of limitations and the statute of repose faces the dismissal of his or her case on procedural grounds.

Before a court can render judgment in a lawsuit, it must have both subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. Subject matter jurisdiction, also called in rem jurisdiction, refers to the general category (i.e., subject matter) of the case. For instance, a state probate court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a federal criminal matter, and a Texas state court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to determine a boundary line dispute arising in Tennessee.

In addition to subject matter jurisdiction, a court must also have personal jurisdiction over the parties to the suit. Jurisdiction over the “person” includes not only individuals but also corporations. If a court lacks personal jurisdiction over a party, it cannot render a judgment against that party, regardless of the merits of the plaintiff’s claim.

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As the year comes to an end, the media will likely come up with several variations of “This has been the year of …” For those who have been paying attention to the world of product liability, particularly with respect to the automotive industry, this has been “The year of the recall.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency taxed with the task of promoting motor vehicle and highway safety and helping prevent automobile crashes, has been extremely busy this year.

In addition to fines and penalties levied by the NHTSA, there have also been a number of large recalls involving cars, trucks, and SUVs.

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Ammonium nitrate – that’s just a fancy name for fertilizer, right? Yes and no. While its ability to provide a source of nitrogen to plants has led to its widespread use by farmers who are looking to increase their crop yields, there is another, darker side to the odorless, crystal salt formed when ammonia and nitric acid mix.

If you do an internet search of the term “ammonium nitrate,” you will quickly discover that it has the potential to be a very dangerous substance. It is so dangerous, in fact, that the United States Department of Homeland Security has proposed a regulation aimed at preventing its misappropriation or its use in an act of terrorism.

So, why exactly would it be used by a manufacturer of airbags? That’s a very good question.

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Tractor-Trailer Accidents Caused By Tire Failures Due To Excessive Speeds

Tractor-trailer tires being operated at speeds that exceed their design limitations is causing an increasing number of catastrophic accidents. The increase in the allowable highway speed limits has resulted in many heavy truck tires being operated at speeds that are unsafe. Many truck tires were designed at a time when speed limits were much lower and the tires had a maximum sustained design limitation of around 75 miles per hour. Now many states, including Texas, have posted speed limits of 75, 80 and even 85 miles an hour. Operating truck tires at excessive speeds for an extended period of time caused excessive heat which degrades the tire more susceptible to blowouts, road hazards, a separation.

From 2009 through 2013 there were in excess of 14,000 fatal heavy truck and bus crashes in the United States which took 16,000 lives. The major truck tire manufacturers include Michelin, Bridgestone, Goodyear, Yokohama and Firestone with Michelin selling the most tires. The tire manufacturers blame the truck operators. The truck operators blame the tires as defective products. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) thus far has concluded that operating the tires in excess of the intended speeds is the culprit. No doubt both bear some portion of the responsibility.

A Dallas jury recently rendered a verdict for $23 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages against Boston Scientific Corporation. The case involved a defective Obtryx sling implanted in the plaintiff to treat urinary leakage. The punitive damages finding was immediately reduced to $11 million pursuant to a Texas tort reform law that protects grossly negligent defendants by limiting punitive damages to two times the economic damages. Boston Scientific and indicated that they plan to appeal.

The case of Salazar v. Lopez is the third jury trial that Boston Scientific has faced. The first two were tried in Massachusetts and resulted in defense verdicts. Venue is obviously very important in these cases. There are several transvaginal mesh products which are commonly used to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. The seven manufacturers are facing thousands of claims filed by women who allege that the defects in the mesh products were known but not disclosed by the manufacturers.

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