Let's make a deal(ership)

The SE Texas Record Oct. 10, 2009, 1:28pm

Is a car dealership responsible for an alleged manufacturing defect?

Wouldn't most people go after the car manufacturer, assuming the dealer had no knowledge of the alleged defect?

Why would someone alleged being injured by a car defect and then ignore the manufacturer and sue the car dealer?

Someone should ask Ronita Harris those questions.

On September 21st, she filed suit against Action Chrysler Jeep Dodge Inc. in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas, alleging that a truck purchased from a Jackson, Miss., dealership was unreasonably dangerous and defective.

Harris' son, Antonio, was driving his 2005 Dodge Truck in Marshall when he lost control of the vehicle and struck several trees. The truck rolled over and Antonio was ejected and severely injured.

According to the police report, Antonio was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident. Harris says he was.

She also contends that the vehicle violated principles of crashworthiness, failed to provide proper restraint, violated the purpose of a seatbelt buckle, was not tested thoroughly, did not have adequate engineering analysis, and had a weak and inferior front structure and roof.

She says the dealership should be held liable "because it marketed and represented that said vehicle was safe, when in fact it was unsafe," and "for allowing a defective and unreasonably dangerous product to enter the stream of commerce."

If Harris proves successful-- and she hasn't offered any proof that she can be-- the precedent set by such a case would be dangerous in its own right.

If auto dealerships are to blame for defective cars, should they start doing their own auto testing?

How would that work out for consumers? With much higher prices, that's how. As questionable litigation continues to raise the price of automobiles, how high is too high in America?

Here's hoping we don't have to find out.

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