Structural failure of truck during collision blamed in wrongful death suit

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jan. 13, 2010, 3:13pm

MARSHALL -- Randall Newman was fatally injured when his Chevrolet pickup was hit by another truck at an intersection.

Newman's family has filed suit against General Motors of Canada Ltd., alleging that the truck's support structure failed which allowed the truck and brush guard to intrude into the passenger compartment.

Individually, as surviving spouse and as representative of the estate of Randall Newman, Suzanne J. Newman and additional plaintiffs Lauren Newman Terrell, Jason Newman, Ira Newman and Shirley Newman filed a motor vehicle product liability complaint against GM of Canada on Jan. 5 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the complaint, on July 17, 2008, Newman, while traveling westbound on FM 293 near Pampa, approached FM 293's intersection with FM 2300. At approximately the same time, Collin Bowers, traveling northbound on FM 2300, stopped at the intersection. Westbound FM 293 travelers are not subject to a stop sign; northbound FM 2300 travelers must stop at the intersection.

Bowers pulled into the intersection and struck the driver's side door of Newman's vehicle. Newman died from his injuries.

At impact, Newman drove a 2002 Chevrolet 1500 pickup manufactured by GM. When Bowers's truck collided with the GM-manufactured Chevrolet pickup, the truck's support structure yielded, allowing the truck and brush guard to intrude into the passenger compartment.

The plaintiffs claim the pickup was unreasonably dangerous and defective in its design and marketing.

GM violated the principles of crashworthiness, the suit states, because the passenger survival space was destroyed.

The plaintiffs argue that the structural integrity of the pillar and roof rail was insufficient to protect its occupant and the failure of the survival space caused other safety systems to fail or become ineffective.

"Technologically and economically feasible safer alternative designs existed that would have prevented or significantly reduced the risk of injury without impairing the product's utility," the complaint states.

Arguing gross negligence, the plaintiffs claim that GM's actions involved an "extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of potential harm to others."

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for loss of advice, counsel and services including the monetary value of Newman's nurture, care, education and guidance. They are also suing for mental anguish, loss of companionship and society, loss of inheritance and interest.

On behalf of the deceased, the plaintiffs are seeking wrongful death damages for medical expenses, conscious pain, suffering, and mental anguish, funeral and burial expenses.

Longview attorneys John D. Sloan Jr. and Alan J. Robertson of Sloan, Bagley, Hatcher and Perry Law Firm are representing the plaintiffs.

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

Case No 2:10cv00003

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