U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Ford's Preemption Claim | DENENA | POINTS

Posted on Mar 03, 2011

Mary Priester sued Ford Motor Company after her son was killed during a rollover accident involving a 1997 Ford F150 pickup truck.  James Priester was ejected from the side rear window of the truck and suffered fatal injuries after he was ejected.  Ms. Priester sued Ford alleging product defectclaims and more specifically, that Ford should have installed laminated glass in the side windows as opposed to tempered glass, which would have kept James inside the truck during the rollover.  These types of claims are widely known as glazing claims.

Ford moved to dismiss Priester’s claims, arguing that her state tort law allegations were preempted by Federal Law because the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) gave Ford the option of using laminated or tempered glass, and they chose tempered glass which is designed to shatter on impact.  The trial court in South Carolina dismissed Priester’s claims and the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed.

The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed and held that Priester’s claims are not preempted and that her case can go to trial in South Carolina to determine if Ford’s decision to use the cheaper, more dangerous glass was a defective design of the F150.  The Priester case comes on the heals of the Court’s February 23, 2011, decision in Williamson versus Mazda in which the Court held that the Williamson’s claims that Mazda should have installed shoulder and lap seatblets in the back inboard seats were not preempted by Federal Law.

Both of these recent cases highlight the Court’s recent shift toward states’ rights and the premium that is placed on state common law theories of liability.  Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Attorneys Tony Denena and Chad Points have vast experience in handling cases against Ford Motor Company.  Judge for yourself by reviewing all of the information on our website or by calling us today at 877.307.9500.

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