The firm won a hotly contested product liability trial before a Kanawha County (Charleston), West Virginia jury on February 2. A local mother was driving her teenaged daughter and a friend to school when they were hit head on by another driver who was on the wrong side of the road. Their vehicle was knocked backward and off the road where it came to rest nose down 40 degrees. A fire erupted, killing the back seat passenger, who was unable to get out of the car. Her estate brought a wrongful death and survival action, as did the estate of the front seat passenger, which alleged that she, too, had burned to death in the fire.
At trial, the plaintiffs alleged that a key fuel line was routed so as to put it at risk of breach in a collision. The defense contended that the fire was started by hot, oily fluids that flowed onto hot exhaust system elements after the transmission and oil coolers were ripped from the engine. After nine days of evidence and deliberations, the jury took just under 3 1/2 hours to find in favor of the defense.
During the trial, we wrangled a half-vehicle buck into the courtroom and had the company witness use it to take the jury under the hood and explain the fuel line routing.