Friday, December 6, 2013

Spurlin v. General Motors Corp. case brief

Spurlin v. General Motors Corp. case brief summary
528 F.2d 612 (1976)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff surviving parents challenged an order from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, which granted defendant bus chassis manufacturer's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in plaintiff's wrongful death suit arising out of a school bus crash, which occurred when the bus's brakes failed.

CASE FACTS
Plaintiff surviving parents filed a wrongful death suit against defendant bus chassis manufacturer when a bus's braking system failed and caused the bus to crash. Plaintiff received a favorable verdict but the lower court granted defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict claiming insufficiency of evidence.

DISCUSSION
  • On appeal, the court reversed the order. 
  • The court held that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to have found that the braking system was not reasonably safe and consequently that defendant breached its duty as a manufacturer because expert testimony indicated that the bus had a single hydraulic braking system when a dual hydraulic system was preferable and available within the industry and that the bus lacked an emergency brake. 
  • The court also held that there was ample evidence to submit the issue of proximate cause to the jury because there was conflicting evidence on the issue of the adequacy of the warnings in defendant's maintenance manuals for a jury to determine whether the county was negligent in failing to maintain the bus and whether such negligence was foreseeable by defendant.
CONCLUSION
An order granting defendant bus chassis manufacturer's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in plaintiff surviving parent's wrongful death suit was reversed as there was sufficient evidence to support a finding that defendant was negligent in equipping the bus with an inadequate braking system given the industry standard and there was conflicting evidence as to whether the county's negligent maintenance was foreseeable by defendant.

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