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Product liability - Defective design - The plaintiff alleged absence of electronic stability control was cause of rollover collision - Wrongful death of 20-year-old.

United States District Court, District of Indiana

This was a product liability matter in which the plaintiff contended that the defendant’s vehicle lacked an electronic stability control which resulted in the rollover collision that caused the decedent’s untimely death. The defendant denied the allegations and maintained that the plaintiff’s decedent had fallen asleep at the wheel, causing his own injury.

On August 21, ________, the 20 year old decedent was driving his ________ Ford Explorer on Interstate 80 on a trip home from Washington, D.C. His vehicle drifted to the left side of the road. When the decedent corrected the drifting by steering the vehicle back to the right, the vehicle rolled over. The decedent was ejected from the vehicle and died.

The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant, Ford, alleging that the ________ Ford Explorer was defective as it lacked electronic stability control that caused it to have a propensity to be unstable and rollover. The plaintiff’s expert opined that the addition of an electronic stability control would have prevented the rollover.

The plaintiff presented evidence that the decedent, an upcoming evangelist, would have been a multi-millionaire if he had lived significantly increasing the potential damages.

The defendant disputed the allegations of the defective design of its vehicle. The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s decedent had merely fallen asleep behind the wheel and it was his own negligence, and not a defect in the vehicle, that caused the rollover and subsequent death of the driver. The defendant presented evidence of telephone calls between the decedent and one of his friends where he mentioned how tired he was while driving that evening.

The defendant further argued that the force of the correction when the decedent awoke was substantial and was the cause of the vehicle’s rollover.

After a nine day trial, the jury deliberated for approximately thirty minutes before returning its verdict in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiff.

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