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Acord v. General Motors Corp.

Supreme Court of Texas

April 18, 1984

No. C-2392

Opinion

 [*113]  The principal issue presented in this products liability case is the propriety of an instruction given by the trial court in conjunction with a jury inquiry of defective design. Roy Acord, Petitioner, brought suit as a result of an accident in which his wife was killed and his minor son was injured when their vehicle was struck by a G.M.C. truck after the truck's brakes failed. Acord alleged strict liability against General Motors Corporation and common law negligence against Gilbert Johnson d/b/a Johnson's Fleet Service. The jury answers on issues of liability were favorable to both defendants and the trial court rendered a take nothing judgment against Acord. The court of appeals affirmed the judgment. 657 S.W.2d 7. We reverse the judgments as to General Motors Corporation and remand the cause to the trial court. We affirm the judgments as to Johnson.

The trial court inquired of the jury "do you find from a preponderance of the evidence that at the time it was sold by General Motors, the 1970 truck involved in the accident [**2]  made the basis of this suit was defectively designed because it failed to contain a dual or redundant back-up braking system." Two instructions were included with the special issue. The first stated "by the term 'defectively designed' as used in this issue is meant a product that is unreasonably dangerous as designed, taking into consideration the utility of the product and the risk involved in its use." The preceding instruction follows verbatim the approved charge in Turner v. General Motors Corp., 584 S.W.2d 844 (Tex. 1979).

Additionally, however, the court instructed the jury as follows:

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669 S.W.2d 111 *; 1984 Tex. LEXIS 338 **; 27 Tex. Sup. J. 336; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P10,169

ROY ACORD, JR. INDIVIDUALLY AND A/N/F OF AARON ACORD, Petitioner, v. GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION ET AL., Respondents

Subsequent History:  [**1]  Rehearing Denied May 20, 1984.

Prior History:  FROM BEXAR COUNTY FOURTH DISTRICT.

CORE TERMS

trial court, cases, design defect, court of appeals, strict liability, manufacturer, causation, factors, insurer

Civil Procedure, Judicial Officers, Judges, General Overview, Jury Trials, Jury Instructions, Objections, Torts, Products Liability, Types of Defects, Design Defects, Theories of Liability, Strict Liability, Standard Instructions, Appeals, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review, Pretrial Matters, Motions in Limine, Jurors, Selection, Voir Dire, Standards of Review, Standards of Review, Reversible Errors, Evidence, Procedural Matters, Objections & Offers of Proof, Settlements, Multiple Party Settlements, Partial Settlements, Parties, Joinder of Parties