Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Mazda after 17 year old dies in vehicle fire

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Jul. 20, 2012, 10:49am


TYLER - A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Mazda following the death of a 17 year old whose vehicle struck a tree and caught fire.

Gary Stithem and Tracy Stithem, individually and on behalf of the Estate of Brytnie Stithem, filed suit against Mazda Motor of America Inc., doing business as Mazda North American Operations, Mazda Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor of America Inc. on July 10 in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division.

The wreck occurred on Jan. 18 as 17-year-old Brytnie Stithem was driving west on CR 1178 in the city of Flint. According to the lawsuit, an oncoming vehicle was in her path and caused her to veer to the right.

Stithem's Mazda left the roadway and the driver's side front of the vehicle struck a tree. The front and rear passengers quickly exited the vehicle but, Stithem was trapped due to the collapse of the vehicle structure, the suit states.

The Stithem household was close to the accident scene and Gary Stithem along with other bystanders attempted to remove her from the vehicle.

Shortly after the crash a fire began in the vehicle. The father failed to get Brytnie Stithem out of the vehicle and she suffered fatal injuries in the fire.

The defendants are accused of designing and manufacturing a defective vehicle.

"The subject vehicle was unreasonably dangerous and not crashworthy because the passenger compartment was unable to preserve an occupant survival space in an foreseeable crash sequence and the vehicle's fuel system was not designed to maintain its integrity in the event of a foreseeable crash sequence," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit is seeking an award of wrongful death damages, including pecuniary losses, loss of services, expenses for psychological treatment, funeral expenses, mental anguish, loss of companionship and society, loss of inheritance, mental anguish, interest and court costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by Jeffrey T. Embry of Hossley & Embry in Tyler. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider is assigned to the case.

Case No. 6:12-cv-00441

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