While it isn’t unusual for a wrongful death case to settle out of court, it is somewhat unusual to see one settle just as it is about to go to trial.
A jury was already chosen in the case of a wrongful death suit involving four members of the same family when attorneys notified the judge that all parties had chosen to settle.
The family was heading home from Fresno to La Puente when a left tire blew on their 1999 Ford Expedition, causing it to roll over the center divider of the freeway, falling 36 feet. Two of the surviving family members were among the plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed in 2013.
The plaintiffs in the case allege that the two rear tires on the vehicle were defective, which lead to the blowout. BF Goodrich, the Discount Tire Company, and Glen’s Tires were named as defendants in connection with the defective tires. According to product liability laws, any manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, or retailer in the chain of supply that takes a defective product out of the factory and into the hands of the consumer can be held liable for its defect if the consumer is injured.
The suit also named Ford Motor Company, alleging that the SUV was not properly equipped with a safe stability system. If it had been, the vehicle might not have rolled over. In addition, Caltrans was named as a defendant, since the poor highway design allowed the vehicle to go over the embankment where there were no guardrails or beams to prevent that from happening.
Caltrans and Glen’s Tires had been the lone holdouts among the defendants, unwilling to settle.
A case like this illustrates the complex issues that can be involved in a motor vehicle injury case, especially where catastrophic injuries or death occur. Multiple issues of negligence combined to create the situation that led to these deaths, which means that multiple defendants had to be listed in the case, and a case that was filed in 2013 didn’t settle until 2017.
By holding all of the possible defendants responsible, the plaintiffs were likely able to recover far more for their losses than they would have if only one of the defendants were named.