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Mitsubishi asserts general denial in wrongful death suit over fatal auto fire

By David Yates | Oct 16, 2013

Mitsubishi is claiming a special exception in its answer to a lawsuit filed against it by the family of a woman who burned to death when her car allegedly malfunctioned and burst into flames.

As previously reported, 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.

Court records show Mitsubishi filed its special exception and original answer to the suit on May 31.

In the special exception document, Mitsubishi asks that the court require the plaintiff to put a maximum amount of damages claimed. The original answer asserts a general denial and alleges the incident was caused by the negligence of the deceased, or a third party.

According to the original complaint, 25-year-old Jessica Fertitta was driving a 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Ltd. when it allegedly 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, reports say.

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.

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.

Glen W. Morgan and Chris W. Leister of Reaud, Morgan & Quinn in Beaumont represent them.

Mitsubishi is represented in part by Germer Gertz attorney Larry Simmons.

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

Case No. A193-933

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