Seatbelt manufacturer sued after rollover fatality

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jan. 7, 2009, 9:55am

MARSHALL � While driving her 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix east of Tyler, Sandra Dozier was killed when she lost control of the vehicle and it rolled over. Contrary to the police report, Dozier's family maintains she was properly wearing her seat belt.

According to court papers, her family claims her fatal injuries were caused by an unreasonably dangerous and "not reasonably crashworthy" seat belt system in the Grand Prix.

James Dozier, individually and behalf of the estate of Sandra Dozier, Dozier's children Clint Bryant and Kimberly Tabb, and Dozier's mother Ann Anderson filed a product liability suit against TRW Safety Systems Inc. on Jan. 6 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The suit states Dozier was properly wearing her seat belt and cites evidence of that usage by stains on below the stow point on the belt, glass particles found in the webbing, and markings by the d-ring.

The plaintiffs allege the seat belt restraint system was defective by the buckle failing to provide adequate restraint throughout an entire accident. The suit argues the buckle violated federal regulations and principles of crashworthiness and did not meet General Motor's internal specifications.

The suit seeks damages for the deceased's medical, funeral and burial expenses, disfigurement, physical and emotional pain, torment, emotional distress, and mental anguish.

The family is also seeking damages for loss of care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel, reasonable contributions of a pecuniary value, loss of companionship and society, loss of consortium, emotional distress, and mental anguish as a result of the fatal injuries.

According to their website, TRW is one of the top financial performers in the automotive supplier industry with sales of $14.7 billion in 2007.

Dallas attorneys E. Todd Tracy and Andrew Count of The Tracy Firm are representing the plaintiffs in their allegations.

A jury trial was demanded.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation and has referred the case to Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham for pre-trial proceedings.

Case No 2:09CV03

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