Justia North Carolina Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Products Liability
Stark v. Ford Motor Co.
A couple and their boy and girl were riding in the family's Ford Taurus when the car began to accelerate rapidly and slammed into a light pole. The children received serious injuries. The children, through their guardian ad litem, sued Ford Motor Company, claiming that the Taurus's seat belt system caused their enhanced injuries. After evidence was presented showing the children's father placed the girl's seatbelt behind her back, the trial court entered judgment in favor of Ford. At issue on appeal was the product alteration or modification defense provided to manufacturers and sellers in products liability actions by N.C. Gen. Stat. 99-B-3. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiffs were entitled to a directed verdict on Ford's affirmative defense under section 99B-3, reasoning that section 99B-3 gives a manufacturer or seller no defense when the product modifier is not a party to the action at the time of trial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the General Assembly did not limit the use of this defense to those occasions when the one who alters or modifies the product is a party to the action at the time of trial. Remanded. View "Stark v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law