Fatalities in vehicle accident caused by defective seatbelt buckles, lawsuit claims

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Feb 22, 2011

MARSHALL - The parents of two deceased Texas residents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit accusing the Ford Motor Co. of manufacturing a vehicle with defective seatbelt buckles.

Michael Ellis and Lori Kern, individually and as legal heirs of the estate of Emily Ellis, deceased; and Steve Bynum and Lynda Bynum, individually and as legal heirs of the estate of Justin Bynum, deceased; filed suit against Ford on Feb. 21 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

The fatal accident occurred on June 13, 2009, as Emily Ellis and Justin Bynum were riding in a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac traveling eastbound in Wood County. The lawsuit states that the driver ultimately lost control of the vehicle and the vehicle rolled over.

The lawsuit states that Ellis and Bynum were both properly seated and wearing their seat belts when the accident occurred.

"Despite being properly restrained, Emily Ellis and Justin Bynum were fatally injured when the vehicle in which they were riding failed to protect them," state the court documents.

The plaintiffs argue that the buckle is prone to unlatch, violates principles of crashworthiness by not providing proper restraint, fails to serve its purpose and rendered other safety systems ineffective. Ford failed to use design features that would have prevented unwanted buckle opening.

The plaintiffs are asking for an award of damages for physical pain and suffering, anguish and emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, funeral and burial expenses, loss of consortium, interest and court costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by E. Todd Tracy and I. Scott Lidji of The Tracy Firm in Dallas.

Case No. 2:11-cv-00096

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