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ON PROXIMATE CAUSE Plaintiff contends brakes defective because worn beyond thickness specifications and tires defective because too large, mismatched and marginal tread depth - Accident occurs day after car purchase when car spins out of control after rounding curve at excessive speed during wet conditions - Death of driver - Injuries suffered by three passengers - Liability only.

Morris County

The plaintiff contended that the ________ Mazda MPV purchased from the defendant used car dealership the previous day was defective because the brake rotors were worn past their minimum thickness specifications and because the tires were too large for the vehicle. The plaintiff contended that the treads of the tires were of only marginal depth. The plaintiff further contended that although the tires were of the same brand and tread pattern across the axles, the front tires differed from the rear tires, heightening the hazard. The plaintiff maintained that the day after the car was purchased, the driver struck a tree after losing control of the vehicle after traveling around a curve. The plaintiff contended that the defects were a proximate cause of the accident, and that the defendant should be liable irrespective of whether driver error was a contributing factor.

The defendant’s tire expert denied that the tires were improper. The defendant’s engineer/accident reconstruction expert concurred and denied that the brake rotors were excessively worn. Further, the accident reconstruction expert denied that the alleged defects were a contributing factor in the happening of the accident. It was undisputed that the accident occurred after the driver traveled around the curve in excess of the 35 mph posted speed limit during rainy conditions. The defendant’s engineer concluded that the driver was traveling at a rate of at least 45 mph.

The defendant further contended that based on eyewitness testimony, the driver was traveling faster than 45 mph.

The court instructed the jury that if they found a defect and if such defect was either the sole or partial cause of the accident, then they had found that such a defect was a proximate cause. The court also instructed the jury that they could consider the conduct of the driver when evaluating the question of proximate cause.

The jury found that the vehicle was defective, however, the jury found for the defendant on the issue of proximate cause.

The plaintiff has filed an appeal.

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