The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that federal vehicle safety regulations don’t preempt a failure-to-warn claim involving an airbag that deployed and severely injured a child. This reversed a trial court ruling. An eight-year-old girl suffered serious brain injuries when the airbag in her parents’ 1997 Ford pickup truck deployed and struck her in the head. The parents alleged that their daughter’s injuries were caused in part by Ford’s defective instructions and warnings with respect to the front passenger seat airbag and airbag deactivation switch.
The trial court judge held that the failure-to-warn claim was preempted by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. But the Appeals Court disagreed, reversed the lower court and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Appeals Court stated in its ruling:
Common tort actions are not expressly preempted. … [T]he duty the [Plaintiffs] seek to impose neither actually conflicts with [the statute] nor stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of federal objectives regarding airbag warnings. Therefore, preemption was not a basis on which to grant summary judgment to Ford.
The case will now be tried in the trial court. The Indiana Court’s decision was correct and a very good one. It’s refreshing to see the courts following the established law and also doing the right thing.
Source: Lawyers USA Online
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