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Products Liability Cases Often Involve Complicated Issues, Such as When Competing Experts Disagree Over Cause of Car Accident

September 17, 2014
Western Michigan Federal Courts

Because many automotive manufacturers or parts suppliers reside in or do business in Michigan, products liability cases arising from car accidents are frequently litigated in Michigan. These cases can be extremely complicated, require a high degree legal competency, and frequently have millions of dollars at stake. The cases often are litigated in federal court when the injured person lives outside of Michigan pursuant to "diversity jurisdiction" under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

A recent example of a products liability case in the Western District of Michigan is Laetz v Hyundai Motor America. Dr. Brian Laetz was traveling on I-69 in Calhoun County. His car veered to the right, overcorrected to the left, went across the median, and hit a fully loaded semi-trailer. Tragically, Dr. Laetz died as a result. 

Dr. Laetz's representative alleged that a defect in the car caused the accident. Hyundai had recently recalled the part of the car that was allegedly defective. Hyundai's expert accident reconstructionist testified that Dr. Laetz's inattentive driving caused the accident and that no evidence existed that a defect caused the accident. The plaintiff presented three experts to the contrary. The Honorable Janet T. Neff sifted through the four experts' technical opinions and held that an issue of fact existed as to whether a defect existed and, if so, if the defect caused the accident. Unless the parties settle the matter, a jury will decide the issue.

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