Dodge Minivan Product Liability And Wrongful Death Case Reinstated.

In order to file a product liability lawsuit, the victim must prove that he or she was injured because of a defect in a product. Liability can also be proven when the product involved a potential risk but lacked a sufficient warning label regarding that risk. A defective product can cause a victim’s death, in which case the survivors of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim in conjunction with the defective product suit. Either way, the victim or the victim’s survivors may be able to collect damages for the recklessness or gross negligence of the product’s manufacturer.

In 2011, Rose Coats, aged 75, and her husband, Roy Coats, aged 83, were found dead in their garage in Menifee, California. Their 2008 Chrysler Dodge Grand Caravan minivan allegedly had a “false park” defect that caused the car to shift into reverse on its own and start to move backwards. This defect caused the car to pin Ms. Coats between the car door and the garage door, which resulted in her suffocating to death. Mr. Coats was struck by the reversing car, which caused him to have a heart attack, fall to the ground, and die.

Expert testimony explains that this engineering defect can be easily avoided. According to Business Insurance, some experts believe, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, that the deaths were causally related to this product defect. Therefore, the victims’ survivors are suing the manufacturers for compensation.

The United States District Court in Los Angeles had granted Chrysler summary judgment, dismissing the case, because there was a lack of a causal connection between the deaths and the alleged product liability. However, a three-judge panel unanimously reinstated the strict products liability and wrongful death allegations, finding that there are genuine issues of material fact to be resolved by a jury. Furthermore, the “false park” defect has been documented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If you or a loved one has been injured because of a defective product or if a defective product has resulted in the wrongful death of a loved one, please call 617-787-3700 now to speak with one of our expert Massachusetts products liability and wrongful death lawyers or email us at

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