Remember, in The Godfather, when Sonny was killed in his car in at the causeway tollbooth by mobsters with machine guns? What if his father, the mafia don, had given the assassins a pass and filed a lawsuit against the car manufacturer instead? Surely, the defendants would have been held blameless for producing a vehicle unable to withstand gunfire.
What if, after Thelma and Louise had driven off the cliff in their eponymous movie, Thelma’s husband had filed suit against the manufacturer of their convertible? Surely, the defendants would have been held blameless for producing a vehicle unable to withstand a 2000-foot fall.
There are reasonable expectations that car owners can have about the safety and performance of their vehicles. There are unreasonable ones, as well.
There are reasonable expectations that car manufacturers can have, too. For instance, that the persons driving the cars they’ve made and sold are licensed, sober drivers who are physically and mentally capable of operating a motor vehicle.
The reasonable expectations may not be exactly the same for off-road or utility vehicles, but some still apply.
What if three 12-year-old girls commandeered a Kawasaki Mule and took it joy-riding without their parents’ permission and one of the parents sued the company, in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, for the injuries her child sustained in the resulting accident? Surely, the defendants would be held blameless for producing a vehicle unable to withstand the untrained operation of juveniles.
So it was. A federal jury recently found a Kawasaki Mule was not defective and responsible for the injuries sustained in the avoidable accident.
None of the girls was supposed to be riding or driving the vehicle; not one was wearing a seatbelt.
We regret the young girl’s injury and disagree with the parental response.