SE Texas Record

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Collision with tractor-trailer leads to suit against Ford

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Sep 20, 2007

1995 Ford Escort

MARSHALL -- Failing to stop at a red light, a Transport Designs tractor-trailer collided with Kelli Blount's 1995 Ford Escort causing her ejection. Although wearing her seatbelt, Blount says the seatblet was defective and the ejection caused 28-year-old to injury her head, neck, back and spine.

The Montague County resident filed suit against Ford Motor Company and Transport Designs, Inc. on Sept. 13 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the plaintiff's original complaint, Wallace Witham, an employee of Transport Designs, failed to stop his tractor-trailer at an intersection and collided into Blount's Ford Escort while she was attempting a left hand turn on Nov. 6, 2006.

Blount's complaint asserts Ford Motor Company is guilty of strict products liability because the Ford Escort was "unreasonably dangerously defective" and "not crashworthy." The vehicle had a defective passive restraint system which did not have "proper upper and lower torso restraint." Continuing, the young woman states her vehicle did not have a mitigation system to prevent partial or complete occupant ejection.

The complaint also states Transport Designs is guilty of negligence by the failure of their driver Witham to maintain a proper lookout, take evasive action, to operate the tractor trailer as a "reasonably prudent person would," failure to yield the right-of-way, heed traffic signals and stop at a red light.

Also contributing to the collision, Transport Designs was negligent in failing to properly maintain the truck and trailer's brake linings, suspensions, lighting and brake adjustment.The suit says the defendant had a duty to train and supervise Witham, and teach him on how to identify faulty brakes.

Additionally, the complaint asserts negligence per se against defendant Transport Designs for hiring and entrusting its vehicle to a "reckless or incompetent driver." The suit states that Transport Designs should have completed a criminal background check, which would have revealed that "Wallace E. Witham has been convicted on two prior occasions for driving under the influence and on another occasion for reckless driving."

Blount alleges defendant Transport Designs is vicariously liable for employee Witham's actions under the doctrine of Respondent Superior.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for physical pain, disfigurement, impairment, mental anguish, medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity. Blount asserts she is also entitled to exemplary damages due to defendants' gross negligence.

Representing the plaintiff is Dallas attorneys Andrew Payne and James Mitchell of the Payne Mitchell Law Group and Royse City attorneys Kevin Vice and Eric Jacocks of the law firm Mayo Mendolia and Starr.

Currently, defendants have not responded to the lawsuit.

Jury trial is requested. U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside.

Case No.: 2:07cv00402

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