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SUV Rollover, Seat Belt Didn’t Hold – Death from Injuries: Texas Unsafe Car Lawyer Gives Case Report
SUV Rollover – Seatbelt Didn’t Work – Death
Family of Slain Mom Blames Ford Expedition for Her Death.
Case: Dewayne Kelley, Individually; Christopher Windham as next friend of Bryant Windham and Meaghan Windam, Minors; Stephen Louviere, as next friend of Kayleigh Louviere and Caitlyn Louviere, Grispe Perello and Vera Perello, Individually and Linda Davis Pate, as Administrator of the Estate of Margarey Kelley v. Ford Motor Company, MacPro, Ltd. (d/b/a McDormand Motors), MacPro GP, Ltd., McDormand Motors Ltd., Mac Pro GP, LLC, TRW, Inc., now known as Northrop Grumman Space and Mission Systems, Corp. and TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, Cause No. B1702015
Court: 60th Judicial District, Jefferson County, Texas, the Honorable Gary Sanderson presiding.
Plaintiff Attorneys: Chad Points and Tony Denena, Denena & Points, PC, Houston, Texas
Defense Attorneys: Evan N. Kramer, William Moye, Brown McCarroll, Houston, Texas for Ford Motor Company and Mac Pro entities
Jack E. Little, Jr. and David R. Tippetts, Pillsbury Winthrop, Houston, Texas for TRW entities
Facts & Allegations: On May 17, 2003, plaintiffs’ decedent Margaret Kelley, 35, was driving her four children in the Kelley family’s1998 Ford Expedition in a three-vehicle caravan on SH 69 near Kountze, Texas when she lost control of the vehicle, it rolled several times and she was ejected. Witnesses claimed that a barbecue pit blew out of the second vehicle in the caravan and Kelley lost control of the vehicle when she swerved to avoid hitting it.
The plaintiffs brought suit against the defendants claiming that there were defects in the design of the Expedition and the driver’s seat-belt restraint system that caused Kelley’s death. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged the Expedition was difficult to handle and unstable in foreseeable emergency evasive maneuvers, and its occupant restraint system and roof structure failed to offer appropriate occupant protection and containment during rollover incidents.
With regard to the seat-belt buckle, the plaintiffs alleged that it had propensity to unlatch during collisions and accident events, resulting in obvious failure to restrain and retain occupants. These defects directly led to Kelley’s ejection and fatal injuries, the plaintiffs alleged. In addition, the plaintiffs alleged that Ford knew that SUVs such as the Expedition rolled over at a much greater rate than passenger cars and that rollover crashes inflicted some 12,000 head injuries and 3,000 spinal cord injuries each year yet Ford did precious little to properly address the three most significant injury risks posed in rollover crashes: roof crush, ejection and safety belt performance behavior.
TRW categorically denied all the plaintiffs’ allegations. It contended Kelley was not wearing her seat-belt at the time of the rollover.
INJURIES: Margaret died from traumatic torso and head injuries. She survived for five days at St. Elizabeth Hospital before she died. Her family was present when she passed.
RESULT: The parties settled for a confidential amount.
PLAINTIFF EXPERTS: Stephen Syson, P.E., failure analysis, seatbelt design and testing, Goleta, CA.; Richard Clarke, seatbelt design, Hoschton, GA; Mickey Gilbert, PE, accident reconstruction, Golden, CO., Mitchell Young, MD, psychiatry, Houston, Texas; Thomas Ireland, Ph.D., economics, St. Louis, MO.; Wayne Ross, MD, neuropathology, Lancaster, PA.
DEFENSE EXPERTS: Thomas McNish, MD, injury bio-mechanics, San Antonio, TX; Juan Herrera, PhD, accident reconstruction, El Paso, Texas; Gregory Miller, PE, failure analysis, seat-belt design, Rochester, MI.