Pastor files suit against GM after 3 church members die in rollover

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Nov. 15, 2007, 5:53am

MARSHALL -- Kelly Gray, pastor of the Apostolic Lighthouse Church in Whitesboro, filed suit against General Motors after his wife and two church members died during a rollover accident.

Returning home from a women's conference on April 1, 2006, Fonda Gray's 2006 Pontiac Montana vehicle swerved, rolled over once and landed upside on the highway. The Department of Public Safety states Fonda Gray, 36, Pasty Coon, 49, and Dixie Estridge, 62, were pronounced dead at the scene. Gray's daughter suffered a broken jaw and rib and fractured her back in the accident.

According to court documents, at around 3:30pm, Fonda Gray's vehicle left the roadway, then returned to the roadway and began rolling over, finally coming to rest upside down. The suit states the vehicle's steering and handling resulted in the rollover.

Specifically the allegations declare, "the Pontiac Montana vehicle was unsafe due to its propensity to oversteer during emergency avoidance maneuvers."

The plaintiffs argue the vehicle should have been equipped with electronic stability control, wider track width, and a lower center of gravity. The suit also alleges GM was negligent and grossly negligent for not providing adequate rollover protection, unsafe passenger restraints, not testing for or warning of the propensity to rollover, and failing to reduce the risk of rollover and injury.

Kelly Gray, individually and as estate representative of Fonda Gray, and Joy Greer, individually and as estate representative of Dixie Estridge, filed the motor vehicle product liability suit against General Motors on Nov. 9 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for pecuniary losses, loss of companionship and society, loss of inheritance, and mental anguish.

On behalf of the deceased, the suit seeks damages for physical pain, suffering, mental anguish, funeral and burial expenses. Plaintiffs are also seeking punitive damages "in an amount sufficient to punish the defendants."

Representing the plaintiffs are Dallas attorneys, Frank Branson and J. Gregory Marks of the Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, P.C.

U.S. District Judge David Folsom is presiding over the litigation.

Case No. 2:07cv00492

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