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Personal Injury Legal Cases

2005 Dodge Ram Rollover Results In Roof Crush, Cause Fatal Injuries

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA
IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF APACHE

RICHARD D. BLAIR, Individually and as Successors in Interest to the Estate of HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR, deceased Plaintiff,
vs.
CHRYSLER CORPORATION; DIAMOND DODGE CHRYSLER and DOES 1 through 100, inclusive, Defendants.

CASE NO.: CV2008-019845
[UNLIMITED CIVIL]

FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
(Tort- Wrongful Death/survival Action and Personal Injuries)

  1. Strict Product Liability
  2. Negligence (Product Liability)
  3. Negligence
  4. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Comes now, Plaintiff, RICHARD D. BLAIR, Individually and as Successor in Interest to the Estate of HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR, deceased; and for causes of action against CHRYSLER CORPORATION; DIAMOND DODGE CHRYSLER and DOES 1 through 100, inclusive and each of them allege as follows.

ALLEGATIONS COMMON TO ALL CAUSES OF ACTION

At all times prior to her death, HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR, was a resident of the City of Lane, Oklahoma.

At all times mentioned in this Complaint, Plaintiff, RICHARD D. BLAIR, is and was the surviving spouse of the decedent, HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR. Plaintiff, RICHARD D. BLAIR is and was a resident of the City of Lane, Oklahoma.

  1. At all times mentioned in this Complaint, Plaintiff, RICHARD D. BLAIR, Individually and as Successor in Interest to the Estate of HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR, deceased, was and is the lawful heir of the decedent, HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR. RICHARD D. BLAIR brings this action as a survival action, pursuant to A.R.S. Section 14-3110 and brings this action as a wrongful death action, pursuant to A.R.S. Section 12-612, for the wrongful death of his spouse.
  2. At all times mentioned in this complaint, Defendant, CHRYSLER CORPORATION, is and was a Delaware Corporation, with its principal place of business in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Defendant, CHRYSLER CORPORATION is and was a citizen of the States of Delaware and Michigan.
  3. At all times herein mentioned, Defendants DIAMOND DODGE CHRYSLER, was and is a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the State of Arizona, and had a principal place of business in the City of Flagstaff, County of Apache, State of Arizona.
  4. At all times mentioned in this complaint, Defendants, DOES 1 through 100, and each of them, were individuals, corporations, partnerships, and/or associations residing in and/or authorized to and/or doing business in the State of Arizona.
  5. The true names and/or capacities, whether individual, corporate associate, governmental or otherwise of defendant Does 1 through 100, inclusive and each of them are unknown to the Plaintiff, who therefore sues said defendants by such fictitious names. When the true names and/or capacities of said defendants are ascertained, the Plaintiff will seek leave of this Court to amend the Complaint accordingly.
  6. The Plaintiff is informed and believes, and based thereupon alleges, that each defendant designated herein as a Doe was responsible, negligently or in some other actionable manner, for the events and happenings herein referred to which proximately caused the damages to the Plaintiff as hereinafter alleged, either through said Defendants' own negligence or through the conduct of its agents, servants, employees or representatives in some other manner.
  7. The Plaintiff is informed and believes and based thereon alleges that at all times mentioned herein the defendants and each of them were the agents, servants, employees, representatives and/or joint venturers of their co-defendants and were, as such acting within the course, scope and authority of said agency, services, employment, representation and/or joint venture in that each and every defendant, as aforesaid when acting as principal, was negligent in the selection and hiring of each and every other defendant as an agent, servant, employee, representative and/or joint venturer.
  8. The Plaintiff is informed and believes, and based thereupon alleges that at all times mentioned herein each of the defendants, including Defendant Does 1 through 100, inclusive, and each of them were the agents, servants, employees, representatives of each of the remaining defendants and were at all times material hereto acting within the authorized course and scope of said agency, service, employment and/or representation, and/or that all of said acts, conduct and omissions were subsequently ratified by their respective principalsand the benefits thereof accepted by such principals.
  9. At all times mentioned herein, Defendants, CHRYSLER CORPORATION; DIAMOND DODGE CHRYSLER and DOES 1 through 100, were and are engaged in the business of manufacturing, fabricating, designing, assembling, distributing, selling, inspecting, servicing, repairing, marketing, warranting, leasing, renting, selling, retailing, wholesaling and advertising a certain subject 2005 Dodge Ram Heavy duty 4x4 SLT Pickup, Oklahoma License Plate No. BDM574, Vehicle Identification No. 3D7KS28C05G703281, (hereinafter the "SUBJECT VEHICLE") and each and every component part thereof, which defendants knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, would be used without inspection for defects in its parts, mechanisms or design, for use in the State of Arizona and elsewhere.
  10. At no time at or prior to such sale did said Defendants ever issue any warnings or notifications about any dangers or safety issues extant in the SUBJECT VEHICLE, nor did said Defendants ever advise the Plaintiffs or the decedent HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR, that the vehicle was not mechanically sound or unsafe to operate.
  11. On or about August 15, 2007, at approximately 5:55 P.M., the decedent, HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR, was the properly belted driver of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, traveling westbound on Interstate 40, outside the city of Navajo in Apache County, Arizona, at highway speeds, when the SUBJECT VEHICLE veered off the roadway toward the left and into the median. The SUBJECT VEHICLE quickly veered toward the right and back onto the roadway crossing both westbound lanes as it began to skid in a counter clockwise direction. The SUBJECT VEHICLE began to rollover finally coming to rest upside down, facing in a southeast direction, partially on the right westbound lane and the emergency lane.
  12. As the SUBJECT VEHICLE rolled, the roof crushed, causing severe and fatal injuries to the decedent, HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR, including massive head trauma which the decedent later succumbed to following the rollover accident.
  13. FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION - STRICT PRODUCT LIABILITY

    (Against Defendants, CHRYSLER CORPORATION; DIAMOND DODGE CHRYSLER and DOES 1 through 100, inclusive)

  14. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates by reference each of paragraphs 1 through 14, above, as though fully set forth herein.
  15. Defendants, CHRYSLER CORPORATION; DIAMOND DODGE CHRYSLER and DOES 1 through 100, inclusive, and each of them, knew that the SUBJECT VEHICLE was to be purchased and used without inspection for defects by the users of that vehicle including but not limited to the Plaintiff and decedent.
  16. The SUBJECT VEHICLE, including each of its component parts, was manufactured, designed, assembled, packaged, tested, fabricated, analyzed, inspected, merchandised, marketed, distributed, labeled, advertised, promoted, sold, supplied, leased, rented, repaired, adjusted, selected and used with inherent vices and defects both in design and manufacturing and by failure to warn (hereinafter "SUBJECT DEFECTS") which made it dangerous, hazardous and unsafe both for its intended use or for reasonably foreseeable misuses.
  17. These SUBJECT DEFECTS included, but were not limited to the following.
    • "A" and "B" pillars and windshield headers and roof rails fabricated without sufficient strength and structural integrity to withstand roof crushing forces without imparting injury-producing forces upon vehicle occupants during foreseeable accident rollovers of such vehicles.
    • Defective and unsafe restraint system, including the lack of available side curtains and side airbags, which permits excessive occupant vertical excursion and which defendants and each of them knew and were aware would fail to properly restrain an occupant such as HELEN LAVONNE BLAIR in the event of a roll-over accident, and which, in this case, failed to properly restrain the plaintiff, HELEN LAVONNE BLAIR, and which further facilitated the partial ejection of her body during the accident sequence.
    • Defective and unsafe window system which did not comply with and failed to fulfill the purposes of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 205 in that the window system did not reduce or mitigate injuries resulting from impact to the glazing surfaces and did not minimize the possibility of occupants being thrown through the vehicle windows in collisions. The entire window system, its frame and design of the structure, as part of the occupant retention system, failed to restrain the decedent and her body was partially ejected and thrown through the defective vehicle's window system during this roll over crash, causing fatal injuries to the decedent. Defendants knew and were aware that the window system of the SUBJECT VEHICLE would fail and create openings for occupant ejection in the event of a roll-over and/or side slip/skid accident, and which in this case, did create a portal in the driver's side door/window allowing the decedent, HELEN LAVONNE BLAIR, to be partially ejected during the accident sequence, and causing ultimately fatal injuries. Despite the availability to defendants of the knowledge and technology to use window frame systems as part of an overall occupant retention system, defendants did not utilize such occupant retention window systems in the side and rear windows of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, which occupant retention window systems would have prevented the partial ejection of Plaintiff's decedent's body during the roll over and sideslip/skid accident and the ultimately fatal injuries sustained by Plaintiff's decedent during the accident sequence.
    • Insufficient lateral and roll stability so as to keep the vehicle upright during cornering and handling by an ordinary driver during reasonably foreseeable roadway and traffic conditions, which Defendants at all times knew and were aware could and did cause substantial severe and life-threatening internal injuries when used in a reasonably foreseeable manner by a driver of its vehicles, and which Defendants and each of them further knew and were aware would fail to keep the vehicle upright during cornering and handling by an ordinary driver during reasonably foreseeable roadway and traffic conditions. Despite the availability to Defendants of the technology to include an electronic stability control system, Defendants did not include such available roll stability control systems in the SUBJECT VEHICLE, which systems would have prevented the roll over accident and the serious and fatal injuries sustained by the decedent during the accident sequence.
    • Inadequate and/or lack of any warnings regarding the above defects.
  18. Said product and each of its component parts was unsafe for its intended use and reasonably foreseeable misuses by reason of the defects in its design and/or manufacturing and/or failure to warn by said Defendants, and each of them, in that when the SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts was used by the decedent, on or about August 15, 2007, as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, the SUBJECT VEHICLE, during a reasonably foreseeable driving maneuver, was dangerous, defective, and unstable and rolled, causing the roof to crush and causing severe and fatal injuries to decedent, legally resulting in Plaintiff's damages as set forth herein.
  19. As a direct and legal result of the conduct of Defendants, and each of them, and the defects inherent in the vehicle, serious and fatal injuries were caused thereby to HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR, causing her to suffer serious physical and mental injuries to her body and mind, prior to her death following the rollover accident, which all in turn legally resulted in Plaintiff's special and general damages in a sum in excess of the minimum subject matter jurisdiction of this Court according to proof at trial.
  20. ALLEGATIONS SUPPORTING EXEMPLARY DAMAGES PRAYER

    ON FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION, Against Defendants CHRYSLER CORPORATION; DOES 1 through 50 only

  21. Plaintiff is further informed and believes and thereon alleges that Defendants CHRYSLER CORPORATION and DOES 1 through 50, and each of them intentionally engaged in conduct which, with respect to the SUBJECT DEFECTS, which Plaintiff alleges was a legal cause of decedent's personal injuries and death and Plaintiff's loss and damages, exposed Plaintiff and other users of the SUBJECT VEHICLE to serious potential danger known to the Defendants in order to advance the Defendants' pecuniary interests and thus acted with a conscious disregard for the safety of the Plaintiff and other users of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, warranting an award of exemplary damages against Defendants CHRYSLER CORPORATION and DOES 1 through 50. The facts supporting the Defendants' intentional conduct which exposed Plaintiff and other users of the SUBJECT VEHICLE to serious potential danger known to the Defendants in order to advance the Defendants' pecuniary interests, are on information and belief, as follows.
  22. Defendants have misrepresented the results of their own testing, and ignored and suppressed data regarding the deaths and serious injuries due to the insufficient strength of the roofs of their trucks, vans and SUVs during rollover accidents. Since 1968, Defendants and each of them have known and been placed upon notice contemporaneously as a result of crash data, in-house testing, field-service reports, and published studies that actual users of and passengers carried within pickup trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles ("SUVs") manufactured by said Defendants and each of them, including but not limited to, the SUBJECT VEHICLE, were susceptible to accident forces exceeding 8,000 Newtons which forces were more than sufficient to cause and bring about, and which accident forces were and are causing and bringing about, serious and substantial head and neck injuries during rollovers when such trucks, vans, and SUVs, and the SUBJECT VEHICLE were and are actually used by such users of these vehicles and members of the public as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
  23. Since 1968, Defendants and each of them have known and been placed upon notice contemporaneously, as a result of the information described above, that the A, B and C Pillars, windshield headers and roof rails of such trucks, vans, and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE, must be manufactured and fabricated to withstand rollover crushing forces of at least 8,000 Newtons in order adequately to protect users of these trucks and members of the public from serious injuries and/or death from crushing of the roofs of such vehicles during rollovers when such trucks, vans, and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE were and are actually being used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
  24. In or about 1983 and 1984, Chrysler and Anthony Sances of the Medical College of Wisconsin published industry studies of which Defendants and each of them were in receipt and on notice, which further established that the A, B and C Pillars, windshield headers and roof rails of such trucks, vans, and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE, must be manufactured and fabricated to withstand rollover crushing forces of at least 8,000 Newtons in order to adequately protect users of these vehicles and members of the public from serious injuries and/or death from crushing of the roofs of such vehicles during rollovers when such trucks, vans, and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE were and are actually used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
  25. In or about 1984, Defendants and each of them, published and/or participated and/or received Hybrid III crash dummy specifications for a catastrophic compressive neck injury of 4,000 Newtons at the load cell (i.e., the base of the human head) when they knew at that time that such forces were approximately one-half of the crushing forces Defendants knew at the time, from cadaver and other studies in their possession, were minimally necessary to effect head and neck injuries, which actions were taken to establish a false set of rollover crush force minima which were not representative of actual rollover accident conditions, and which were intended by said Defendants to and which in fact did falsely lead the public and regulatory bodies of the U.S. Government to believe that the trucks, vans and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE manufactured by the Defendants and each of them had sufficiently fortified A, B and C Pillars, windshield headers and roof rails within such trucks, vans, and SUVs, and SUBJECT VEHICLE so as to be able to withstand rollover crush forces of 4,000 Newtons.
  26. In fact this was half of the roof crush impact forces said Defendants and each of them knew were actually being sustained in such rollover accidents, and which rollover crush forces said Defendants, and each of them knew, were well beyond the actual structural prophylactic limitations of the A, B, and C pillars, windshield headers and roof rails said Defendants were using and continued to use within such trucks, vans, and SUVs, and SUBJECT VEHICLE, such that said Defendants knew and intended that members of the public and users of such vehicles were being exposed and would continue to be exposed to death and serious injuries from the crushing of the roofs of such vehicles during rollovers when such trucks, vans, and SUVs, and the SUBJECT VEHICLE were and are actually being used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
  27. In 1985, as a result of information which had come to light as a result of rollover crush accident data, in-house testing, field-service reports, and published studies, Defendants and each of them published and/or participated in and/or received position papers detailing rollover roof crush studies claimed to have performed in-house (during calendar years 1983 and 1984) (hereinafter "MALIBU 1 TEST RESULTS"). Said Defendants and other automakers, and each of them knew, and intended that the MALIBU 1 TEST RESULTS falsely concluded and misrepresented, based upon the 1983 to 1984 testing performed by said Defendants and the data obtained therefrom, that:
    • 4,000 Newtons was the reasonable average rollover crush force delivered and extant in typical rollover crush accidents, when in fact defendants knew that the actual rollover impact forces were twice that number, i.e., at least 8,000 Newtons;
    • That a videotaped excerpt from the testing data which showed substantial injuries being delivered to the head of a test subject were merely a contact patch, and not an actual instance of a rollover crush injury, when in fact Defendants knew at the time that this was not the case;
    • That the roof strength of the A, B, and C pillars, windshield headers and roof rails which use half-sections of roll tubing ("OPEN SECTIONS") are just as secure and will prevent rollover crush injuries just as effectively as complete roll tubing ("CLOSED SECTIONS"), which said Defendants knew at the time was false;
    • That the roof strength of the A, B, and C pillars, windshield headers and roof rails were just as effective and secure and would and did prevent rollover crush injuries just as effectively in a production model trucks as in a roll-caged trucks, when in fact said Defendants knew this was false.
  28. Defendants and each of them, individually and in concert with other automakers, further knowingly falsified their test results, ignored and suppressed data, and further falsely mis-characterized adverse test data which the Defendants knew at the time tended to prove that their trucks, vans and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE were defective and unsafe in real world rollover accidents, and would and did expose members of the public and users of said Defendants' trucks, vans, and SUVs and the SUBJECT VEHICLE to death and serious head and spinal injuries in the MALIBU 1 TEST RESULTS due to the insufficient strength of the A, B, and C pillars, windshield headers and roof rails in such vehicles.
  29. After demands were made by litigants and other members of the public following the 1985 publication of the MALIBU 1 TEST RESULTS, said Defendants and each of them, individually and in concert with other automakers, intentionally spoilated and destroyed critical test evidence and test documentation upon which the MALIBU 1 TEST RESULTS were allegedly based, so as to prevent discovery of the falsehoods and misrepresentations made by said Defendants in the MALIBU 1 TEST RESULTS, and to prevent disclosure of the fact that said Defendants knew that they were knowingly and intentionally exposing users of said Defendants' trucks, SUVs, vans and Pick-Ups, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE, including Plaintiff, to death and serious head and spinal injuries in the MALIBU 1 TEST RESULTS, due to the insufficient strength of the A, B, and C pillars, windshield headers and roof rails installed in such vehicles.
  30. In 1990, Defendants and each of them again published and/or participated in and/or received second position papers detailing rollover roof crush studies said Defendants and other automakers claimed to have performed in-house (hereinafter "MALIBU 2 TEST RESULTS"), in which results said Defendants knowingly and intentionally falsified test data. Defendants and each of them knew and intended that the MALIBU 2 TEST RESULTS falsely concluded and misrepresented, based upon the 1983 to 1984 testing performed by the said Defendants and the data obtained therefrom, that:
    • The test data conducted and upon which the MALIBU 2 TEST RESULTS were based, supported the conclusion that 4,000 Newtons was the reasonable average rollover crush force delivered and extant in typical rollover crush accidents, when in fact said defendants knew that the actual rollover impact forces were twice that number, i.e., at least 8,000 Newtons;
    • That the restraint systems in said Defendants' trucks, vans, and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE, were effective to prevent head contact with the roof structures during times when rolling vehicles were inverted, when in fact said Defendants and each of them had used and implemented standing pelvis dummies which did not engage or place any genuine "loads" upon the restraint systems involved to begin with, for the purposes of falsely leading the public and governmental regulators into believing that existing restraint systems were adequate to mitigate roof crushing rollover injuries, when in fact Defendants knew that this was false;
    • Centrifugal forces extant in the genuinely prototypical rollover crush accident were insignificant, unreasonable angles and vectors of impact forces were appropriate and proper when said Defendants and each of them in fact knew that such angles and vectors were not representative of real accident conditions and understated and/or outright misrepresented real accident conditions so as to falsely lead the public and government regulators to conclude the roof structures were of adequate strength, when said Defendants knew this to be false, that drop testing procedures were injury irrelevant (as they were knowingly performed by said Defendants from unrealistic heights), and that rolling "spit" test procedures proved that members of the public would sustain injury regardless of roof component strength, when in fact Defendants knew at that time that all such conclusions were false.
  31. Defendants and each of them, individually and in concert with other automakers, therein further knowingly falsified their test results, ignored and suppressed data, and further falsely mis-characterized adverse test data which said Defendants knew at the time tended to prove that their trucks, vans, Pick-Up's, and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE, were defective and unsafe in real world rollover accidents, and would and did expose members of the public and users of said Defendants' trucks, SUVs and vans to death and serious head and spinal injuries in the MALIBU 2 TEST RESULTS due to the insufficient strength of the A, B, and C pillars, windshield headers and roof rails in such vehicles.
  32. At all times mentioned herein, Defendants and each of them were aware that use of complete sections, thicker steel and stronger materials in A, B, and C pillars, windshield headers and roof rails was at all times mechanically feasible, posed no adverse consequences to consumers or to said Defendants' trucks, vans and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE, and were only marginally more expensive to implement, which use of complete sections, thicker steel and stronger materials in A, B, and C pillars, windshield headers and roof rails would withstand rollover impact forces of in excess of 8,000 Newtons and thus would prevent death and serious injuries in most actual rollover accident cases, including that accident which is the subject of this action.
  33. At all times herein mentioned, Defendants and each of them knew and were aware that members of the public were suffering from death and serious injuries in rollover accidents which involved roof crushing forces in said Defendants' trucks, vans, and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE, as a result of said Defendants' failure to use complete sections, thicker steel and stronger materials in A, B, and C pillars, windshield headers and roof rails of said Defendants' vehicles.
  34. At all times mentioned herein, despite the fact that Defendants and each of them were aware that use of complete sections, thicker steel and stronger materials in A, B, and C pillars, windshield headers and roof rails was at all times mechanically feasible, posed no adverse consequences to consumers or to said Defendants' trucks, vans and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE, were only marginally more expensive to implement, and would have prevented deaths and serious injuries in most actual rollover accident cases, including that accident which is the subject of this action, said Defendants intentionally refused to use complete sections, thicker steel and stronger materials in A, B, and C pillars, windshield headers and roof rails of their trucks, vans and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE: (1) to avoid the increased expense of using such improvements in their vehicles (including costs of redesign, more extensive materials, retooling, re-certification expenditures and other costs of implementation), so as to preserve and widen said Defendants' profit margin on the sales of such vehicles; (2) to avoid disclosure during re-certification and retooling processes of the fact that said Defendants knew their previously-manufactured trucks, vans, and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE's A and B pillars, windshield headers and roof rails were of insufficient strength to withstand even modest actual rollover accidents without the risks of serious injuries and death to users of such vehicles, which would greatly increase said Defendants' legal exposure in cases brought arising from rollovers of production vehicles already in use by the public; and (3) to avoid taking action which would result in disclosures leading to an expensive recall campaign by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
  35. Plaintiff is informed and believes and further thereon allege that, from 1987 onward, Defendants conducted studies and analysis to determine the extent to which the use of laminated glass windshields could be used in the stead and in place of stronger materials resistant to foreseeable roof crush for the purposes of meeting other inadequate and insufficient FMVSS 216 testing not replicating real world roof crush events, all for the purposes of saving the Defendants money and advancing their pecuniary interests by reducing costs of production and increasing profits, despite knowing at all times relevant that during a real world roof crush event, the windshield will universally and always fracture instantaneously losing its structural strength and thus instantaneously depriving occupants of the SUBJECT VEHICLE of any genuine sufficient protection from catastrophic and/or fatal injuries as a result of the roof crush forces. At the same time Defendants thus were reducing the strength of the SUBJECT VEHICLE's roof to be able to withstand foreseeable and statistically inevitable real world roof crush events, in order to effectuate cost savings and increase profits to the detriment of the safety of the public using such vehicles, thus exhibiting a willful and conscious disregard of such public's safety, as alleged herein.
  36. Defendants and each of them advertised and marketed their vehicles as safe, rugged and "Tough," which in fact Defendants knew at all times they were making such representations that their SUBJECT VEHICLE and other similar trucks, vans and SUVs would be likely to leave occupants of the vehicle totally unprotected from catastrophic injuries and death from roof crushing forces during statistically inevitable and foreseeable rollover incidents.
  37. Plaintiff further alleges that, at the time of manufacture of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, Defendants and each of them had available an electronic stability control system for use and installation in the SUBJECT VEHICLE, which system was not only technologically feasible, but was readily available and offered as an option by CHRYSLER in other 2005 model year vehicles, at relatively little additional cost, and was touted by defendant as addressing the following conditions. "If the system senses oversteer or understeer, it automatically adjusts braking and throttle to match the vehicle's direction to the driver's intention. Translation: It helps you maintain control…" Such system, had it been installed in the SUBJECT VEHICLE, would have dampened and mitigated the dynamic oscillations and oversteer in the laterally unstable SUBJECT VEHICLE sufficiently so as to have prevented the loss of control, causing the rollover accident and Plaintiff's resulting injuries. Defendants at all times herein relevant knew such electronic stability control system could and would mitigate and dampen the effects of lateral instability in its trucks, including, but not limited to, the SUBJECT VEHICLE, and which could have and would have likely prevented the oversteer and understeer highly foreseeable in the SUBJECT VEHICLE arising as a result of its known lateral instability, and which stability control system Defendants knew would be likely to avoid rollover accidents arising from such lateral instability, which rollover accidents in such vehicles, Defendants and each of them at all times herein relevant knew, would likely result in total roof crush and resulting serious and/or fatal injuries to occupants of such vehicles, thus heightening the accident and roof-crush prevention propensities of said vehicles as a whole. Although the marginal cost per vehicle associated with incorporation of such readily-available and optional electronic stability control systems into Defendants' vehicles, including but not limited to, the SUBJECT VEHICLE, was extremely low, i.e., from $100 to $400 per vehicle, Defendants and each of them, nonetheless willfully failed and refused to incorporate such systems into such vehicles as standard equipment, despite Defendants' knowledge that the systems could and would prevent a multitude of accidents and severe and/or fatal injuries arising from foreseeable lateral instability and resulting rollover and roof crush accidents, including the accident involving Plaintiff and the SUBJECT VEHICLE, which is the subject matter of this lawsuit. Such optional electronic stability control system should have been standard equipment on the SUBJECT VEHICLE given the enhanced and advanced aforementioned lateral instability and rollover propensities of the SUBJECT VEHICLE known to the Defendants and the purchase purpose of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, i.e., for driving by members of the public inexperienced with the aforementioned lateral instability and rollover propensities of the SUBJECT VEHICLE and/or of unknown and/or undisclosed driving experience. As a result, Defendants thus willfully exposed the plaintiff and other members of the general public to the risks of death and serious injury arising from such foreseeable and inevitable accidents, all for the advancement of Defendants' pecuniary interests in the form of avoidance of diminished sales associated with slightly higher sticker prices, potential further warranty repair expense of such electronic stability control systems, and avoidance of taking action which would potentially be perceived as remedial of the known lateral instability and rollover and roof crush propensities of Defendants' SUVs and light trucks, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE, thus potentially increasing the Defendants' liability exposure in lawsuits arising from the lateral instability, rollover and roof crush characteristics of the Defendants' SUVs and light trucks, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE.
  38. Defendants have also misrepresented to the public and the Federal government the deaths and serious injuries that have resulted from the defective glass and choice of glazing used in the side and rear windows of their vehicles. Since 1970, Defendants and each of them have been aware that use of tempered side and rear window glass was contributing to serious occupant ejection problems in side impact and rollover accidents. Defendants ignored and suppressed data regarding the deaths and serious injuries due to partial and total ejection of occupants through the side and rear windows of vehicles during rollover and side impact accidents due to the use of defective glass and glazing in those windows. In 1970, Roger P. Daniel, a Ford research engineer, published the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Technical Paper 700423, which defendants and each of them received and/or participated in, in which Mr. Daniel reported that "the increasing use of unsupported tempered side glass appears to have adversely influenced the frequency of partial and complete occupant ejection through the side glass areas." Mr. Daniel recommended that in order to better retain vehicle occupants completely within the passenger compartment during accidents, the use of a substantial metal framework along with the use of laminated glass, similar to that used in current American windshields, would achieve maximum durability and minimum laceration potential! In spite of the clear explanation of the problem and a feasible solution that would save lives, defendants and each of them ignored such data and have failed to take action to use appropriate materials to prevent vehicle occupant ejection by using laminated glass or ejection resistant glazing.
  39. In addition, in 1984, the U.S. Government, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published SAE Technical Paper 840390; and in 1985, SAE Technical Paper 851203, and in 1989, SAE Technical Paper 890218, which set forth the analysis and testing by NHTSA Researchers Carl C. Clark and Peter Sursi, of alternative glazing opportunities to reduce or eliminate ejection and resulting injuries and fatalities, and in which each of the defendants participated and/or received a copy thereat. In the 1989 report, NHTSA advised defendants that ejection was involved in about 25% of all passenger car fatalities and 40% of light truck and van fatalities and that ejection through glass areas, in a specific passenger car study, accounted for about 60% of all ejections. NHTSA reported their own dynamic roll over tests demonstrating that either laminated windshield-type glass or other glass-plastic glazing could eliminate most ejections through glass openings. Defendants and each of them received and/or participated in, these NHTSA studies and SAE Technical Papers and in spite of this knowledge and awareness, Defendants ignored and suppressed data, and further falsely mis-characterized adverse test data which the Defendants knew at the time tended to prove that the glass being used in the rear and side windows of their trucks, vans, sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and Pick-Ups was defective and unsafe in real world rollover and/or side skid accidents, and would and did expose members of the public and users of said Defendants' trucks, SUVs and vans to death and serious head and spinal injuries due to the insufficient, defective and unsafe auto glass being used in such vehicles.
  40. Moreover, after defendants, in concert with other auto manufacturers, provided no constructive response to the NHTSA data on elimination of most ejections through glass openings, NHTSA convened a public meeting in Washington, D.C., in 1996, during which NHTSA presented detailed test data, cost analysis and manufacturing lead time data on several alternative glazing proposals, estimating the reduction in fatalities and incapacitating injuries that would result from improved glazing. For rollover accident fatalities, an 86% reduction was projected for the driver and a 90% reduction for passengers. For incapacitating injuries in rollovers, NHTSA projected a 68% reduction for drivers and a 63% reduction for passengers. Defendants' representatives were present at this meeting and simply responded that all drivers and passengers do not always use seat belts, flatly ignoring those statistics that evidence the drivers and passengers who do wear seat belts are injured or killed due to the defective restraint systems that are defective and fail, as set forth herein. In fact, many partially ejected and fatally or seriously injured occupants, such as the plaintiff herein, are in fact belted, yet those restraint systems fail.
  41. In August 1999, NHTSA published a report entitled, Ejection Mitigation Using Advanced Glazing: Status Report II, which estimates that laminated glass or other advanced glazing systems would reduce annual fatalities by 500 to 1300 each year. Defendants, again, received and/or participated in this report, yet the only reason defendants have not used inherently safer laminated glass or other alternative glazing in the side and rear windows of their trucks, vans, SUVs, and Pick Ups, is and was to save money in an environment where they knew, through various questionable inter-manufacturer contacts, that their competition would similarly save money rather than use readily available technology to save lives and prevent injuries.
  42. Despite the longstanding recommendations of knowledgeable and caring automotive engineers, and in spite of the known roll over propensity of Defendants' light trucks, vans and SUVs, defendants chose to ignore the inherent safety problem of roll over occupant ejection due to defective glass and glazing, and took no action to prevent such debilitating injuries and deaths, because of concern about cost penalties. Defendants' decision to save money at the expense of innocent human life and pain and suffering constitutes, despicable conduct and callous disregard for the safety of the motoring public, including the Plaintiff. Defendants' failure to act is enhanced by the similar acts of their competitors, and is shameful and shocking that such a large, powerful and influential industry has for years conspired to resist obvious major opportunities to improve motor vehicle safety by improving glass and glazing in automobiles, trucks, vans and SUVs, all to advance their own pecuniary interest.
  43. Defective Restraint Systems

  44. The defendant CHRYSLER CORPORATION knew for a number of years that the seatbelts manufactured for the company were inadequate and insufficient to safely restrain occupants in rollover events, based upon numerous tests referenced hereinabove showing unacceptable vertical excursion at only one gravity of force in spit tests. Defendant was well aware that with weak and defective roof structures, the amount of vertical excursion would likely, and in fact did, result in severe and often fatal neck fractures, yet did nothing to prevent these occurrences.
  45. In addition, defendant CHRYSLER CORPORATION, knew that the weak supports in the "A" and "B" pillars would often result in inboard intrusion of the pillars during rollover crashes, thereby exposing occupants' heads to violent and direct contact with the ground, resulting in massive and often fatal skull fractures. Despite this knowledge, defendant failed to incorporate side curtains and other protective side airbags in its vehicles to properly protect consumers, even though this technology was readily available for several years preceding 2005.
  46. he actions of said Defendants and each of them, as herein described, were thus undertaken with a willful and conscious disregard for the rights and safety of consumers and users of said Defendants' trucks, vans and SUVs, including the SUBJECT VEHICLE, in order to advance the pecuniary gains of the Defendants and each of them, and were despicable because such aforesaid conduct would and does kill and seriously injure people, including but not limited to the plaintiff herein during the course of the accident which is the subject of this lawsuit.
  47. Plaintiff further alleges that the conduct of the defendants was undertaken with the result that the SUBJECT VEHICLE's ultimate defects in its design and production were fully intended by the Defendants to reside therein. Plaintiff is informed and believes that the decisions made by the defendants and each of them to design and manufacture the SUBJECT VEHICLE with its defective seats and seat backs, and defective restraint system components, and failure to warn of these defects, all in the defective and dangerous manner as alleged herein, were made by corporate management of the defendants and each of them, by the product of corporate policy, in that such major and strategic design and manufacturing decisions, by virtue of the corporate structure of the defendants and each of them, could be made only at the level of corporate management, as the product of corporate policy, given the substantial capitalization requirements and risks associated with such high level design and manufacturing decisions, across an entire vehicle platform line for the SUBJECT VEHICLE, such that they were and are the product of the entire corporate management and corporate policy of the defendants with respect to the conscious, willful and disregard of public safety for Defendants' pecuniary gain regarding the design, manufacture, production, marketing and sale of the SUBJECT VEHICLE.
  48. As a direct and legal result of the aforementioned conduct of Defendants and each of them, an award of exemplary and punitive damages against Defendants CHRYSLER CORPORATION and DOES 1 through 50 and each of them, is proper and appropriate to punish said Defendants and to deter such conduct in the future.
  49. SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION

    (Negligence [Product Liability] against Defendants CHRYSLER CORPORATION; DIAMOND DODGE CHRYSLER and DOES 1 through 100, Inclusive)

  50. Plaintiff incorporates, repeats and re-alleges each and every allegation in paragraphs 1 through 46, above, and incorporates the same by reference as though set forth in detail herein.
  51. At all times mentioned, Defendants and each of them, had a duty to properly manufacture, design, assemble, package, test, fabricate, analyze, inspect, merchandise, market, distribute, label, advertise, promote, sell, supply, lease, rent, warn, select, inspect and repair said product and each of its component parts.
  52. At all times mentioned, Defendants and each of them and DOES 1 through 100 knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known that said SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts were not properly manufactured, designed, assembled, packaged, tested, fabricated, analyzed, inspected, merchandised, marketed, distributed, labeled, advertised, promoted, sold, supplied, leased, rented, repaired, selected and provided inadequate warnings for the use and purpose for which it was intended in that it was likely to injure the person who used said product, each of its component parts and/or aftermarket parts and/or installation guides.
  53. Defendants, and each of them, so negligently and carelessly, manufactured, designed, assembled, packaged, tested, fabricated, analyzed, inspected, merchandised, marketed, modified, distributed, labeled, advertised, promoted, sold, supplied, leased, rented, repaired, selected and provided inadequate warnings and provided said SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts so that the same was a defective and dangerous product, unsafe for the respective use and purpose for which it was intended when used and driven as recommended or for reasonably foreseeable misuse by members of the public, including the driver that hit plaintiff in a usual rear end impact event. In particular, said SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts during a reasonably foreseeable maneuver was dangerous and defective in that the A and B pillars/windshield headers and roof rails were fabricated without sufficient strength and structural integrity to withstand roof crushing forces without imparting injury-producing forces upon vehicle occupants during foreseeable accident rollovers of such vehicles and there was insufficient lateral and roll stability so as to keep the vehicle upright during cornering and handling by an ordinary driver during reasonably foreseeable roadway and traffic conditions, and that the seatbelt restraint system and window structural design were defective as well.
  54. As a direct and legal result of the negligence, carelessness, and unlawful conduct of the Defendants, and each of them, and the defects inherent in the vehicle, defendants legally caused the severe and fatal injuries to the decedent, in turn legally resulting in Plaintiff's damages as set forth herein.
  55. THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION

    (Negligence against Defendants, DIAMOND DODGE CHRYSLER and DOES 51 through 100 Inclusive)

  56. Plaintiff incorporates, repeats and re-alleges each and every allegation in paragraphs 1 through 51, inclusive, and hereby incorporate the same by reference as though set forth in detail.
  57. At all times herein mentioned, Defendants DIAMOND DODGE CHRYSLER, and DOES 51 through 100 Inclusive, so negligently, carelessly, recklessly, willfully, wantonly and tortiously maintained, serviced, repaired, inspected, serviced the SUBJECT VEHICLE, such that it was mechanically unsound and unsafe for its intended use by Plaintiff and Plaintiff's decedent.
  58. As a direct and legal result of the negligence of the Defendants and each of them, Plaintiffs have suffered the wrongful death damages as alleged herein.
  59. FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION

    NEGLIGENT INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

    Against all Defendants by Plaintiff RICHARD BLAIR

  60. Plaintiff incorporates by reference as though fully set forth herein paragraphs 1 through 54 above.
  61. Plaintiff RICHARD BLAIR suffered serious emotional distress as a result of observing serious personal injuries, danger and the death of his wife from the vehicle's roof crushing inward, causing catastrophic injuries to Plaintiff's decedent.
    • Plaintiff, RICHARD BLAIR observed his wife being ejected from the vehicle, seriously injured and die.
  62. As described above, defendants negligently caused the serious injuries and death to the plaintiff RICHARD BLAIR and the decedent, by reason of the defects inherent in the SUBJECT VEHICLE, which were caused by reason of Defendants' breach of their duties of care to properly manufacture, design, assemble, package, test, fabricate, analyze, inspect, merchandise, market, distribute, label, advertise, promote, sell, supply, lease, rent, warn, select, inspect and repair the SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts and/or after market parts and/or installation guides.
  63. At all times mentioned, defendants and each of them and DOES 1 through 100 knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known that said SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its components parts and/or aftermarket parts and/or installation guides was not properly manufactured, designed, assembled, packaged, tested, fabricated, analyzed, inspected, merchandised, marketed, distributed, labeled, advertised, promoted, sold, supplied, leased, rented, repaired, selected and provided inadequate warnings for the use and purpose for which it was intended in that it was likely to injure the persons who used said product, each of its component parts and/or aftermarket parts and/or installation guides.
  64. Defendants, and each of them, so negligently and carelessly, manufactured, designed, assembled, packaged, tested, fabricated, analyzed, inspected, merchandised, marketed, modified, distributed, labeled, advertised, promoted, sold, supplied, leased, rented, repaired, selected and provided inadequate warnings and provided said SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts and/or aftermarket parts and/or installation guides so that the same was a defective and dangerous product, unsafe for the respective use and purpose for which it was intended when used and driven as recommended or for reasonably foreseeable misuse by said defendants and each of them. In particular, said SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts and/or aftermarket parts and/or installation guides during a reasonably foreseeable maneuver was unstable, dangerous and would rollover with roof crushing instability causing injury to its occupants, as alleged above. In addition, the glass and glazing of the rear and side windows of the SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts and/or aftermarket parts and/or installation guides during a reasonably foreseeable driving maneuver made with due care were defective and dangerous in that the glass shattered, creating openings or portals causing the plaintiffs to be partially and /or totally ejected from the vehicle, suffering serious personal and laceration injuries, and death of the decedent, HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR.
  65. Plaintiff RICHARD BLAIR was present in the vehicle while it was rolling and was aware that his family member was being seriously injured when partially ejected from the vehicle, cut and lacerated by the broken glass, and her body smashed when the roof crushed inward, and HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR was ejected from the vehicle. As a direct and legal result of the Defendants' negligence, carelessness, and unlawful conduct and the defects inherent in the vehicle, plaintiff RICHARD BLAIR suffered serious emotional distress, including but not limited to suffering, anguish, fright, horror, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry shock, humiliation, and shame, such that an ordinary, reasonable person would be unable to cope with the serious emotional distress.

WHEREFORE, plaintiff prays for judgment against defendants and each of them, as follows.

  1. For special and economic damages including, medical expenses, loss of past and future earnings and earning capacity, according to proof at trial;
  2. For funeral and burial expenses, according to proof at trial;
  3. For general damages including damages for loss of consortium;
  4. For prejudgment interest, as determined by and accrued according to applicable statutes;
  5. For costs of suit incurred herein; and
  6. For any other and further relief the Court deems just and proper.
  7. By Plaintiff, ONLY AS SUCCESSORS IN INTEREST TO THE ESTATE OF HELENE LAVONNE BLAIR, deceased.
  8. For exemplary and punitive damages.

DATED: JULY , 2008 Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys

By:__________________________________
BRIAN D CHASE, ESQ.
E. NICHOLAS HANSEN, ESQ. Attorneys for Plaintiffs


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