Wrongful death suit faults Lexus for lack of electronic stability control

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Aug. 13, 2008, 3:40pm

Lexus ES300

MARSHALL – While driving his Lexus down a Texas interstate, Thomas Lee lost control and slid across the road, hitting an 18-wheeler. The impact killed his wife Felicia Marie Lee, who was riding in the front passenger seat.

In court documents, Lee alleges his wife would still be alive if his vehicle had electronic stability control.

Thomas Dean Lee, individually and as representative of the estate of Felicia Lee, filed a motor vehicle product liability lawsuit against Lexus U. S. A. on Aug. 11 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The suit states Lexus is liable for defective design, manufacture and marketing of the 2003 Lexus ES 300. The plaintiff argues that the car was defective and unreasonably dangerous due to a lack of electronic stability control.

"Prior to manufacturing the vehicle, Toyota incorporated ESC into its design of other passenger vehicles, including Japanese and European versions of the Lexus. However, Defendants did not incorporate ESC into the vehicle in question," the complaint states.

The electronic stability control "helps prevent loss of control accidents" due to momentary or temporary swerving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Web site says: "ESC cannot increase the available traction, but maximizes the possibility of keeping the vehicle under control and on the road during extreme maneuvers by using the driver's natural reaction of steering in the intended direction."

Further, says September 2008 is the start of three-year phase in for all new light vehicles to be equipped with ESC. By September 2011, all new light vehicles should meet compliance.

The suit seeks wrongful death damages including loss of care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel, reasonable contributions of a pecuniary value, and probably accumulation of the estate, and damages for loss of love, comfort, companionship, consortium, support, and society. Lee is also seeking damages for his emotional pain, torment, and mental suffering.

Lee is requesting a jury trial.

Dallas attorneys Andrew L. Payne and James L. Mitchell of the Payne Mitchell Law Group are representing the plaintiff.

U.S. District Court Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation.

Case No. 2:2008cv00315

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