Meineke seeks summary judgment in wrongful death suit over fatal auto fire

By David Yates | May 23, 2018

BEAUMONT – A defendant is seeking summary judgment in a lawsuit filed 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, 2013, in Jefferson County District Court against Mitsubishi International and Smylie Unlimited, doing business as Meineke Car Care Centers.

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.

On April 20, Meineke filed a no-evidence motion for summary judgment, court records show.

Meineke argues enough time for discovery has passed and the evidence is insufficient to support a finding of legal causation.

The plaintiffs claim Meineke negligently inspected and repaired the vehicle.

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 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.

Meineke is represented by Beaumont attorney Richard Hatfield.

Judge Kent Walston, 58th District Court, is presiding over the case.

Case No. A193-933

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