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Buck v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division

June 25, 2012, Filed

Case No. 3:08CV998

Opinion

ORDER

This case concerns injuries plaintiff Linda Buck sustained when a 1999 Ford Expedition, which defendant Ford Motor Company manufactures, crashed into Nickles Bakery, pinning Buck to a wall. Buck claims that the Expedition contained a defective cruise control system that caused the vehicle suddenly to accelerate. She asserts Ohio law claims of defective product design, inadequate warning, failure to conform to express representation, negligence and breach of warranty.

Jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

Pending is defendant's motion for summary judgment. [Doc. 103].

For the following reasons, I grant defendant's motion.

Background

On April 27, 2006, as plaintiff's late husband, J.D. White, driving  [*2] his 1999 Expedition, was pulling into a parking space, the vehicle accelerated. It went over the curb, broke through the store's front window, and struck Buck.

White was a former "two-footed" driver who used one foot for the gas and the other for the brake, although he stated that he did not do so anymore. He also drove with a cane in the well next to his feet. Shortly after the incident, he stated that he was unsure whether he hit the gas pedal or missed the brake pedal. Later he consistently asserted he hit the brake pedal while the car was accelerating.

Buck claims the Expedition was defectively manufactured. Initially, she argued that the vehicle's Next Generation Speed Control system (NGSC) was defective because a way that electromagnetic interference (EMI) emitting by the car caused sudden, uncontrollable acceleration. Buck sought to introduce expert testimony concerning the existence and effect of EMI on the NGSC, but I have rejected each of her two proffered experts under Daubert. [Doc. 98].

Buck, altering her theory of the case, now posits what is, essentially, a res ipsa loquitur claim, as to which Ford seeks summary judgment. As presently framed, Buck contends the only possible  [*3] explanations for the sudden acceleration of the vehicle are either driver error or defective design. Driver error, in her view, an unsustainable contention, she contends the only explanation for the incident must therefore be some defect in design causing to sudden acceleration. Buck admits this defect cannot be proven with available scientific evidence. She argues her claim can stand on the lack of any reasonable alternative explanation for the vehicle's acceleration.

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2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87693 *

Linda Buck, et al., Plaintiffs v. Ford Motor Company, et al., Defendants

Subsequent History: Affirmed by Buck v. Ford Motor Co., 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 9998 (6th Cir.), 2013 FED App. 496N (6th Cir.) (6th Cir. Ohio, 2013)

Prior History: Buck v. Ford Motor Co., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22641 (N.D. Ohio, Feb. 23, 2012)

CORE TERMS

acceleration, manufacturer, servo, feasible, cruise, ipsa, shielded, sudden, cable