Texas Court Reverses Summary Judgment to Manufacturer of Tire That Allegedly Blew Out, Causing Wreck

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

The plaintiffs in a recent case (No. 05-16-00794-CV; Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas) were the driver and passengers of a sport utility vehicle (SUV) that allegedly rolled over as a result of a tire manufactured by the defendant bursting. The plaintiffs filed a product liability lawsuit against the defendant, asserting claims for strict liability, negligence, post-sale duty to warn, and gross negligence. According to the plaintiffs’ view of the case, the tire that burst and caused the crash was negligently/defectively designed or manufactured, and this was the ultimate cause of the tire’s failure and the accident in which the plaintiffs were hurt.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants

Resolution of the Issues

The appellate court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part. The plaintiffs argued on appeal that the trial court had erred in granting summary judgment on several of their claims because the defendant’s “no evidence” ground for the motion had been dependent upon the outcome of its motion to exclude the testimony of the plaintiffs’ expert witness. Since the trial court denied the motion to exclude the witness’ testimony, the plaintiffs maintained that the defendant’s no-evidence summary judgment motion failed.

The appeals court agreed that the defendant’s only basis for its no-evidence summary judgment motion on certain of the plaintiffs’ claims was the absence of expert testimony. Thus, the appellate court found that the trial court had erred in granting summary judgment to the defendant on some of the plaintiff’s claims. As for the punitive damages claim, however, the reviewing court found that the plaintiffs had failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact on their gross negligence claim, and, hence, summary judgment on the punitive damages issue was correct.

The court also found that summary judgment was proper on the post-sale duty to warn claim, since Texas has not recognized a general duty to warn of product defects not discovered until after manufacture and sale. The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ contention that the defendant’s pre-sale knowledge of the defect supported a post-sale duty to warn that was distinct from the plaintiff’s general failure to warn claim.

Speak with a Lawyer About a Car Accident

An east Texas car accident can happen for many reasons. Often, it is the negligence of another driver or a trucker that results in injuries or wrongful death to an innocent motorist. Sometimes, however, a crash happens for another reason, such as a poorly designed highway or a product defect in an automobile. If you or a family member has been hurt because of a defective product such as the faulty tire that gave rise to the case discussed above, call Earl Drott Law now. Our number is 903-531-9300, and the consultation is absolutely free!

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