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General Motors Corporation v. Sanchez

Supreme Court of Texas
997 S.W.2d 584 (1999)


Facts

Sanchez bled to death from injuries sustained when his Chevy pickup truck, manufactured by General Motors Corporation (GM) (defendant), rolled backward, pinning him between the open driver’s side door and a gate. Sanchez’s estate (plaintiff) brought a products liability claim against GM, alleging a defect in the truck’s transmission. Although there were no witnesses to the accident, the estate theorized that Sanchez had exited the truck to close the gate, leaving the truck door open and the engine running, and had mistakenly shifted into an intermediate position between gears. As he walked toward the gate, the gear shift slipped into reverse and the truck rolled backwards into Sanchez. The jury found that the transmission was defective and that GM had failed to give an adequate warning, but that Sanchez was fifty percent responsible for the accident. The trial court disregarded the finding that Sanchez was partially responsible, based on the estate’s argument that his conduct was simply a failure to discover a product defect, and awarded the estate full damages. The court of appeals affirmed. GM appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gonzales, J.)

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