Local family sues Mitsubishi after young woman dies in mysterious car fire

By Kelly Holleran | Feb 18, 2013

The family of a recently deceased woman blames Mitsubishi for causing her death, saying she burned in a fire after her car malfunctioned and randomly burst into flames.

Vincent J. Fertitta Jr., Sharon P. Meighen, Taylor Meighen, Vincent J. Fertitta and Dona Fertitta filed a lawsuit Feb. 12 in Jefferson County District Court against Mitsubishi International Corp., Smylie Unlimited and Meineke Car Care Centers.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs claim 25-year-old Jessica Fertitta was driving a 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited when it malfunctioned and caught on fire, causing her death on Feb. 20, 2011.

According to news reports, Jessica Fertitta had left her grandparents’ home at about 4 a.m. and driven half a block when she stopped at an intersection. Suddenly, flames enveloped her car.

Before Jessica Fertitta died, she suffered conscious physical pain and mental anguish, according to the complaint.

Because of her death, Jessica Fertitta's family incurred funeral and burial expenses, lost her companionship and society and suffered mental pain and anguish, the suit states.

Investigators believe that the fire was accidental and may have been caused by a mechanical malfunction, according to a Seattle Times article.

In the complaint, Jessica Fertitta’s family blames Mitsubishi for negligently designing and manufacturing the vehicle.

They also name Smylie and Meineke as defendants, saying the companies negligently inspected and repaired the vehicle.

They allege breach of warranty against the defendants and gross negligence against Mitsubishi.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs seek general relief.

Glen W. Morgan and Chris W. Leister of Reaud, Morgan & Quinn in Beaumont will be representing them.

KXAN in Austin reported that Jessica Fertitta was an intern at the Texas State Capitol and a second year law student at the University of Texas. She had previously interned for the U.S. Department of Labor and was deputy financial director for Texans for Greg Abbott. The report said Jessica Fertitta had been in Beaumont for a friend's wedding.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. A193-933

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