Torts Keyed to Dobbs
D’Amario v. Ford Motor Co.
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Harris (P) suffered injury when the car he was riding in, driven by an allegedly drunk friend, crashed into a tree and burst into flames. The car was allegedly over speeding at the time. Harris (P) and his mother, D’Amario (P) , filed suit on the grounds that a faulty electrical relay switch in the car, which was manufactured by the Ford Motor Co. (D), caused the explosion and fire which was responsible for injuries besides those due to the collision with the tree. Ford argued that it was a case of third-party negligence. The parties had diverging theories as to the cause of the fire and Harris’ injuries. The plaintiffs’ had a theory of liability hinging on a defective relay switch which failed to cut off the power supply to the fuel pump. However, Ford argued that the relay switch and fuel pump were in good working order, and it was the bursting of the oil pan, caused by the collision, which led to the fire. The court accepted Ford’s allegations that the primary cause of Harris’ injuries was the driver’s negligence, and allowed an apportionment of responsibility as a defense, as well as evidence of the driver’s actions in causing the collision at first as support for this defense. The jury found that Ford was not at legal fault in causing Harris’s injuries. The trial court granted a new trial, but this order was reversed by the court of appeals who affirmed the verdict in favor of Ford. The state supreme court granted review.
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