Soule v. General Motors Corp.

882 P.2d 298 (1994)

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Soule v. General Motors Corp.

California Supreme Court
882 P.2d 298 (1994)

Soule v. General Motors Corp.

Facts

Terri Soule (plaintiff) was driving her Camaro when another vehicle struck near the Camaro’s front driver-side wheel. The wheel collapsed rearward and smashed the floorboard into Soule’s feet. Soule sustained permanent ankle injuries. Soule sued the Camaro’s manufacturer, General Motors Corporation (GM) (defendant), alleging that the Camaro’s defective design allowed the wheel to break free and move rearward. GM argued that the design was not defective and that the sheer force of the collision itself caused Soule’s injuries. At trial, each side presented numerous experts in specialized fields. The jury was instructed that a product’s design is defective if the product fails to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect or if the design’s inherent risk of danger outweighs its benefits. The jury found for Soule and awarded $1.65 million in damages. GM appealed, arguing that because the product was complex, the trial court erred in instructing the jury that defectiveness could be based on a failure to meet ordinary consumer expectations. The court of appeals affirmed the jury’s verdict. GM appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Baxter, J.)

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