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Leichtamer v. American Motors Corp.

Supreme Court of Ohio
424 N.E.2d 568 (1981)


Facts

Carl and Jeanne Leichtamer (plaintiffs) were backseat passengers in a Jeep Model CJ-7 (CJ-7) that was being driven by a friend at an off-road recreation facility. During a run-through the course, the CJ-7 flipped over, killing the driver and severely injuring the Leichtamers. Jeanne was paralyzed. The Leichtamers eventually brought a strict-liability claim against American Motors Corporation and Jeep Corporation (Jeep) (defendants), arguing that although the driver’s negligence caused the accident, the defective design of the CJ-7’s roll bar enhanced the Leichtamers’ injuries. At trial, the Leichtamers offered evidence that Jeep had advertised the CJ-7 as an off-road vehicle, which increased the risk of the type of accident suffered by the Leichtamers. The Leichtamers also provided evidence that the defective roll bar substantially enhanced their injuries. The trial court returned a verdict for the Leichtamers. Jeep appealed, arguing that strict liability should not apply to a claim that a design defect enhanced a plaintiff’s injuries. The court of appeals affirmed the jury verdict, and Jeep appealed again.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)

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