NCS Attorneys Successfully Defend Auto Dealership

NCS attorneys, Scott Harkness, Tom Bays, and Cindy Lasher, obtained summary judgment on behalf of a car dealership where the plaintiff claimed strict liability for the injuries he sustained in an automobile accident under the Indiana Products Liability Act and for negligent marketing of an unsafe product.  After winning summary judgment at the trial court, summary judgment was upheld on appeal before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In that case, the plaintiff suffered a bilateral leg amputation due to injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle collision in which another vehicle collided with the side of his 2005 Jeep Wrangler.  The plaintiff initially made a strict liability claim under the Indiana Products Liability Act against Chrysler, LLC and sought damages from the car dealership for negligent marketing of the vehicle.  Chrysler, LLC later filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Plaintiff filed a claim against Chrysler, LLC in the Bankruptcy Court and later amended his Complaint in the state court to name only the car dealership, asserting that the dealership “stood in the shoes” of the bankrupt Chrysler, LLC and dismissed Chrysler, LLC from the lawsuit.  The plaintiff’s claims against the dealership in the second amended complaint were based on strict liability under the Indiana Products Liability Act, as well as negligent marketing of the vehicle.  Summary judgment was entered in favor of the dealership on both counts. 

On appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals specifically found that the filing of bankruptcy does not deprive a state court of jurisdiction over a product manufacturer.  The plaintiff could point to no Indiana case recognizing a claim of negligent marketing.  Likewise, the plaintiff failed to find any question of fact that would suggest the dealership was negligent in the marketing of the product.  The dealership did not breach any standard of care that proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.  The Indiana Court of Appeals reviewed the case and affirmed the summary judgment granted in favor of the car dealership.

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