FACTS & ALLEGATIONS
On May 12, 2003, plaintiff Alondra Doe, 19, the belted driver of a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am in Cameron County, was in a collision with an 18-wheeler in an intersection. The Pontiac hit the side of the trailer, and the car’s driver door came open, causing the passive, door-mounted seat belt to stop restraining Doe. She was ejected, and she sustained fatal injuries.
Doe’s mother sued General Motors Corp., alleging that two design defects caused Doe’s ejection.
First, the plaintiff claimed that door latch failed because the striker bolt broke, creating a portal for ejection.
Second, the plaintiff claimed, a passive, door-mounted seat belt is inherently dangerous, because it is useless if the occupant’s door opens. According to the plaintiff, the belt should have been attached to the B pillar instead of the door, and GM was aware of this defect for many years, yet did not remedy it.
GM no longer makes vehicles with door-mounted seat belts. GM denied any defect and argued that Doe’s death was the result of the collision, which GM did not cause. GM’s attorney said that Doe ran a stop sign.
Doe died at the scene, having sustained abrasions and hemorrhaging of the head and neck; rib, spine and leg fractures; and internal injuries. Her left arm was also severed. Her mother, who is married and has four other children, sought wrongful death damages.
RESULT: The case settled for an unspecified amount.
Rob Ammons is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, in addition to being Board Certified in Civil Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Rob Ammons’ law practice, The Ammons Law Firm, is located in Houston, Texas. The Ammons Law Firm practice is exclusively personal injury law, handling such cases as: tire defects, oil rig explosions, truck accidents, plant explosions, refinery accidents, wrongful death, post-collision fires, seat belt defects, airbag defects, SUV rollovers and workplace negligence.