West Virginia Record

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Woman sues Ford over defective seatbelt

By Chris Dickerson | Feb 8, 2006

CHARLESTON – A Kanawha County woman has sued Ford Motor Company over a defective seatbelt that she says caused her severe injuries in an accident.

Sarah Smith filed the lawsuit Jan. 20 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

In July 2003, Smith bought a used 2001 Ford Escort ZX2 at Bert Wolfe Ford.

On Nov. 13, 2004, she was driving the vehicle with her son, Chance Talbert, as a passenger when a deer crossed the road in front of her and, as a result, she struck the deer causing her vehicle to come to a sudden stop.

"Plaintiff's driver's side seat belt did not restrain her, but released upon impact, causing plaintiff to be thrown forward, nor did the airbags deploy," Smith says in the suit filed by Charleston attorneys Rudolph L. DiTrapano and Richard S. Han. "Plaintiff was thrown into the steering wheel and tossed about the car causing her sustain severe injury to her back."

The suit says her son was thrown into back seat but was otherwise uninjured, and there was substantial damage done to the front end of the vehicle.

In the suit, Smith says the purchase of the vehicle was accompanied by a written express warranty of suitability that guaranteed the car was fit for its intended use and that this vehicle "was in excellent physical and mechanical condition."

Smith says she never was warned of defect, malfunction or other condition before the accident.

She alleges Ford knew or should have known of the defect that caused the seatbelt to fail to restrain her. The seatbelt was factory-issued and included in the express warranty, she says.

As a result of the incident, Smith says she suffered severe strain to her lower back, acute blunt trauma to the chest and abdomen, multiple lacerations and contusions, depression, and other injuries

She says she had to undergo intense physical therapy and has suffered pain and suffering past, present and future; loss of income past, present and future; medical expenses past, present and future; impairment of earning capacity; mental anguish and emotional distress past, present and future; loss of enjoyment of life past, present and future; permanent disability and disfigurement and other injuries.

She sues for a breach of implied warranty of merchantability and for negligent design.

And she seeks punitive damages because she claims Ford acted in a malicious, wanton, wilful, fraudulent and reckless manner by failing to warn her and other users/consumers of such defects$

Smith seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as court costs, attorney fees and other relief.

She requests a jury trial.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-95

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