A federal appeals court is allowing a wrongful death lawsuit to move forward against an automotive supplier that is accused of manufacturing defective seatbelts for Mazda.
The decision by a three-judge panel on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a lower court’s judgment to toss the suit against Autoliv Japan Ltd.
According to Law 360, the Eleventh Circuit will allow two of the lawsuit’s three claims to proceed after finding that a manufacturer such as Autoliv can still face liability claims even when it was not “actively involved” in the design of the seatbelts it manufactured for other parties.
Plaintiff Jamie Lee Andrews filed the lawsuit after her husband, Micah Andrews, lost control of his Mazda 3 while driving on I-575 in Georgia in 2013. Although Mr. Andrews was wearing his seatbelt, his head hit the steering column in the collision. The Mazda’s Bosch-made airbags also failed to deploy, leaving Mr. Andrews without crash protection.
Mr. Andrews died from his injuries, which the plaintiff’s lawyers argued could have been prevented or mitigated had the seatbelt and airbag worked properly.
Mrs. Andrews sued Mazda, Bosch LLC, and Autoliv for her husband’s death. Mazda and Bosch settled the lawsuit, leaving Autoliv as the sole defendant.
Judge William Duffey Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia dismissed the remaining claims against Autoliv last year, finding that the company “was not sufficiently involved in designing and testing the belt at issue to maintain liability claims,” according to Law 360.
But the appeals court found that while Georgia’s defective product law protects “mere product sellers” from liability claims, it “expressly does not apply to actual manufacturers such as Autoliv.”
The Eleventh Circuit’s decision allows the lawsuit’s claims of negligence and punitive damages to move ahead but bars the failure-to-warn claim as implausible as pled in the lawsuit, Law 360 reported.