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Smith v. General Motors

Virginia
Jun 29, 2005

CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE.

Federal judge awards GM summary judgment

ABINGDON, VA - After finding lack of causation between product defect and medical injury by the plaintiff, the Honorable Glen M. Williams adopted the Report-and-Recommendation issued by Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent granting Summary Judgment in GM’s favor on June 29, 2005.

The case was the result of a multiple vehicle and multiple-impact crash in Mountain City, Tennessee. The plaintiff was a front-seat passenger in a 2001 Cavalier, when her husband, who was driving 40 mph, collided with a Ford Grenada. The impact drove the Cavalier to its right and directly into the 8,000 pound Ford truck. After the crash, the plaintiff was treated and released from a local hospital, and later returned with stomach pain. A tear in her mesentery was found and repaired during surgery.

The plaintiff argued that the Cavalier’s restraint system was defective. She alleged that the system did not restrain her doing both impacts. Her expert, Charles E. Benedict, Jr., opined that GM should have installed pre-tensioners or used "all belts to seats" ―an engineering term, which means the seat contains the entire restraint system― in the Cavalier. Our defense counsel argued that the system worked the way it was designed, and that there was no causation between defect and injury.

Case:          Wanda Smith v. General Motors Corporation

Court:          United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia

Case No.      2:03CV147

Judges: The Honorable Glen M. Williams and The Honorable Pamela Meade Sargeant (Magistrate Judge)

Attorneys for Plaintiff: Charles H. Smith, III and S.D. Roberts Moore (Gentry, Locke, Rakes & Moore, LLP) Roanoke, Virginia.

Attorneys for Defendant: Robert L. Wise, Bowman and Brooke LLP Richmond, Virginia, office

Expert for Plaintiff: Charles E. Benedict, Ph.D. (biomechanical engineer and expert in accident reconstruction) Benedict Engineering Co., Inc., Tallahassee, Florida.

Experts for Defendant: Jack K. Yee (vehicle design and analysis) General Motors, Warren, MI; Michael E. Klima, P.E.(vehicle restraints) Design Research Engineering, Novi, Michigan; Brent R. Benson, Ph.D., P.E. (accident reconstruction) Benson Engineering, Springville, Utah; Robert D. Banks, BENG, M.D. (biomechanical engineering) Biodynamic Research Corporation, San Antonio, TX.

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