Front-end collision leads to lawsuit against vehicle modification package manufacturer

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Mar 26, 2008

MARSHALL -- While riding as a passenger in a 2005 GMC conversion van, Billie R. Price was injured when a pickup truck crossed over the highway's centerline and struck the van. Price believes the van's conversion package failed to protect her causing her injuries.

Price filed a product liability suit against Explorer Vans Inc., the manufacturer of the conversion package, on March 20, in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Conversion vans are originally bare, windowless full-size 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton cargo vans that are then modified to the owner's specifications. The conversions can include addition of luxury seating, camping features or wheelchair modifications.

The Conversion Van Marketing Association (CVMA) is an exclusive partnership between General Motors and 23 of the nation's conversion van manufacturers. An article on Wikipedia states that Explorer Van Company, located in Warsaw, Ind., is the largest volume conversion van company with production of about 5,000 vans per year.

According to the lawsuit, on Oct. 20, 2006, the plaintiff was riding as a passenger in the conversion van, which was traveling north on a highway in Shelby County, when a 1987 Dodge Dakota that was traveling south on the highway, crossed the centerline striking the van.

Price believes the modification package manufactured by Explorer Vans Inc. prevented the GMC van from protecting her and other rear seat passengers during the accident.

Price alleges her injuries are the result of Explorer Van Inc. committing negligence through designing structurally insufficient component seats, designing ineffective and defective occupant protection devices, inadequate safety restraints for frontal collisions, the failure of interior components, failing to provide adequate warnings regarding the rear seat latch, and constructing the rear seat latch in such a manner users would not know if the seat was properly latched.

Causes of action filed against the defendant include negligence, design defect, failure to warn, manufacturing defect, misrepresentation, and breach of warranty.

The plaintiffs is seeking more than $75,000 for medical expenses, physical pain, mental anguish, loss of earnings and earning capacity, physical impairment and disability, disfigurement, loss of household services, nursing services, attorney fees, and prejudgment interest.

Attorney Bruce Craig is representing the plaintiff.

Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation.

Case No. 2:08cv00118

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