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Burgos v. Lutz

Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court
128 A.D.2d 496 (1987)


Facts

The plaintiff’s decedent was killed in a car accident while driving a car manufactured by Honda (defendant). The impact of the accident caused the car’s steering column to hit the decedent’s chest, which caused his death. The plaintiff brought a design-defect suit against Honda, alleging that the car’s seat-belt system and steering column were defectively designed. The plaintiff presented expert testimony that the locking mechanism in the decedent’s seat-belt system was erratic. The plaintiff did not, however, present evidence that the erratic nature of the locking mechanism was a result of the mechanism’s design or that a safer design would have been feasible. The plaintiff also did not establish that the decedent was wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident. The plaintiff’s expert witness presented a safer alternative design for the steering column. The expert did not, however, testify whether that alternative design would have prevented the decedent’s injuries. Honda filed a motion to dismiss the design-defect claims. The trial court granted Honda’s motion to dismiss, and the plaintiff appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Mollen, J.)

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