Friedman v. General Motors Corp case brief
Facts: Plaintiff turned the ignition key while gear was in “drive” position. He did not expect the car to start but it did and leaped forward to hurt him and three of his family. Plaintiff brings claim against GM. Trial court granted directed verdict for GM; plaintiff failed to prove that the car was defective. Ct of appeals reversed.
Decision: Affirmed Ct of appeals; plaintiff goes to jury
Reasoning: They have to prove 4 things: 1. that the car was made and sold by GM, 2. that the car was defective, 3. that the defect existed at the time that the product left the factory, and 4. that the defect was the direct and proximate cause of the injuries. Circumstantial evidence to prove plaintiff’s case can be used, where a preponderance of the evidence establishes that the accident was caused by a defect and not other possibilities, though possibilities do not have to be completely ruled out.
Looking at facts, court thought that because the car should have been started in Park and not Drive, there is enough of a preponderance of the evidence for a jury.
Holding: Plaintiff must prove four factors while also showing with a preponderance of the evidence for the possibility that he was injured by the defect, though he does not have to disqualify other possibilities completely.
Dissent: There were so many other likelier possibilities that this one that the plaintiff put forth is not 51%. Plaintiff’s evidence MAY be enough for an inference that something was wrong but not enough to establish a defect. There were too many other explanations, especially given the fact that the defect could have been caused after the accident, and accident by driver error.