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McCathern v. Toyota Motor Corp.

Supreme Court of Oregon
23 P.3d 320 (2001)


Facts

Linda McCathern (plaintiff) was riding in the passenger seat of a 1994 Toyota 4Runner (4Runner) when an oncoming vehicle drifted into the 4Runner’s lane. The driver of the 4Runner made a quick series of turns, and the 4Runner rolled over. During the rollover, McCathern was seriously injured. McCathern brought a claim for damages against the 4Runner’s manufacturer, Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) (defendant). At trial, McCathern provided expert-witness testimony suggesting that the design of the 4Runner was defective and unreasonably dangerous, and Toyota conceded that it could have made the design of the 4Runner safer by increasing the 4Runner’s width and lowering the center of gravity. Toyota also conceded that it was aware that many customers believed the height of the 4Runner was a safety feature because of the increased visibility. The jury returned a verdict in favor of McCathern, and the trial court denied Toyota’s motions for a directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict (NOV). Toyota appealed, but the court of appeals affirmed the decision. Toyota appealed again.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Kulongoski, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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