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Donze v. General Motors, LLC

800 S.E.2d 479 (2017)

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Donze v. General Motors, LLC

South Carolina Supreme Court

800 S.E.2d 479 (2017)

Facts

In November 2012, Reid Donze (plaintiff) and his friend, Allen Brazell, were driving in a Chevrolet pickup truck in Greenville County, South Carolina. Donze and Brazell had smoked synthetic marijuana earlier that day. Brazell was driving the pickup truck and failed to stop at a stop sign. The pickup truck entered the intersection. Another truck towing a horse trailer was unable to stop and collided with the driver’s side of the pickup truck. The pickup truck burst into flames. Brazell died as a result of the fire, and Donze suffered burns on 80 percent of his body. Donze filed a crashworthiness action against the manufacturer of the pickup truck, General Motors, LLC (GM) (defendant). Donze alleged that the placement of the gas tank outside of the pickup truck’s frame was a defect in design that caused the fire and sought damages for his enhanced burn injuries. GM filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Donze should be barred from recovery because it would contradict South Carolina’s policy against driving while impaired. GM also argued that if recovery is not barred, it should be limited by comparative negligence. The district-court judge denied GM’s motion and certified the comparative-negligence and bar-on-recovery questions to the supreme court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hearn, J.)

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