The family of a Texas man who died when his 2008 Chevy Silverado burst into flames has filed suit against General Motors LLC. The suits contend that the automaker is liable for a design defect. The suit, filed in state court in August and now removed to federal court, alleges GM’s engine part components were defective and caused the fire. GM removed the case, citing diversity of citizenship and saying the amount in controversy is more than $75,000.
Charlie Litchfield was the project manager of a construction site near Tatum, Texas, in August 2013. He was sitting in his Silverado when another driver lost control of a 2006 Toyota Tundra and T-boned his vehicle, knocking it about 60 feet. The Silverado’s front-left quarter panel and the driver-side door took the brunt of the damage. It appears that emergency crews and bystanders were focused on the occupants of the Tundra, when a fire began in the Silverado. It’s alleged in the complaint:
While attention was focused on this third party’s vehicle, a fire began near the front of Charlie’s vehicle. This fire spread to the cab area where Charlie was sitting. Charlie was seen by witnesses only 60 feet away moving around in the truck and screaming while the fire was building inside the cab of the truck. Eventually a loud boom was heard by witnesses when the gas tank exploded. Charlie burned to death inside the cab of his vehicle.
Litchfield’s widow, Gretta Litchfield, and his daughter, Lori Litchfield, are making claims of strict product liability, negligence and wrongful death in the lawsuit. The complaint alleges that the incident did not immediately kill Charlie Litchfield, and the Plaintiffs claim that his survivors are entitled to seek recovery from GM for the injuries and damages he suffered prior to his death. The Plaintiffs are represented by Bill Frizzell of the Frizzell Law Firm, located in Tyler, Texas. The case is now in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
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