TYLER - The parents of a Quitman teenager involved in a February sports utility vehicle rollover have filed a lawsuit against the vehicle's manufacturer, claiming the vehicle failed to protect their daughter from injuries.

Matt Blalock and Rachel Blalock, individually and as next friend to a minor, filed suit against General Motors on Aug. 5 in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division.

The rollover occurred on Feb. 17 while the Blalock's minor daughter was riding in a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban near Interstate 20 in Van Zandt County. The teen was one of five Future Farmers of America students from Quitman Independent School District in the vehicle, which was driven by teacher Debra Holcombe. The Suburban was part of a convoy on the way to a convention in San Antonio.

According to the lawsuit, Holcombe lost control of the vehicle, causing the vehicle to enter a rollover sequence. The Blalock's daughter was ejected from the vehicle.

According to the lawsuit, Texas State Trooper Ben Rolison reported that the driver "...veered off the road to the right, lost control, steered to the left, over corrected to the right."

The parents state that their teenager was properly restrained at the time of the accident.

Another teenager was also ejected from the vehicle and died. According to police reports, she was not wearing her seatbelt.

The federal lawsuit argues that the Suburban failed to provide adequate occupant protection in a rollover and adequate restraint throughout the entire accident.

Further, the parents argue that the vehicle violated the purpose of a seatbelt and principles of crashworthiness by not providing proper restraint and by not preventing ejection.

The vehicle was defective and unreasonably dangerous because it failed to provide effective restraint and failed to prevent ejection by using ejection mitigation glass.

General Motors is also accused of failing to conduct adequate testing or proper engineering analysis.

On behalf of the minor child, the parents are seeking damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, impairment, disfigurement, loss of consortium, interference with daily activities, reduced capacity to enjoy life, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, interest and court costs.

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

U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis is assigned to the case.

Case No. 6:11-cv-00408

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