Father sues Volkswagen after daughter loses control of Beetle

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Nov. 18, 2008, 12:00pm

MARSHALL � Teenager Whitney Cooper was driving a 2002 VW Beetle in Tyler when she lost control and the vehicle swerved to the right, leaving the roadway.

As she struggled to regain control, the VW began to swerve as it reentered the roadway, and the vehicle rolled over and landed on its left side.

Cooper's father believes that his daughter would not have been injured if the Beetle was properly designed with electronic stability control.

Bill Cooper, as next friend of a minor child, filed a motor vehicle product liability suit against Volkswagen of America Inc. and Volkswagen A. G. on Nov. 17 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

"Volkswagen defectively designed, manufactured, assembled, tested, marketed, and distributed the vehicle by failing to incorporate electronic stability control as standard equipment," the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff argues that the car manufacturer equipped other model Volkswagen Beetles with the electronic stability control and therefore, the addition of the safety device was both economically and technologically feasible.

Further, the plaintiff argues the defendant knew its vehicle was "prone to over steer" and that the installation of electronic stability control could prevent accidents from occurring.

The complaint argues the defendant is negligent stating, "That the failure to incorporate electronic stability control (a developed and easily applied technology) would expose its customers to increased risk of injury or death."

Causes of action filed against the defendant include strict liability and breach of warranty.

The National Highway Transportation Traffic Safety Administration Web site states that September 2008 was the start of three-year phase in for all new light vehicles to be equipped with electronic stability control. By September 2011, all new light vehicles should meet compliance with the rule.

The agency estimates that electronic stability control has the "potential to prevent 71 percent of the passenger car rollovers and 84 percent of the SUV rollovers that would otherwise occur in single vehicle crashes.

Cooper is seeking damages for physical impairment, incapacity, disability, physical pain and suffering and mental anguish.

Tyler attorney Jeffrey T. Embry of the Hossley and Embry, LLP law firm is representing the plaintiff.

Jury trial requested.

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

Case No: 2:08cv0444

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