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Linert v. Foutz

Supreme Court of Ohio

January 5, 2016, Submitted; December 29, 2016, Decided

No. 2014-1940

Opinion

 [***1220]  [*469]   O'CONNOR, C.J.

 [**P1]  In this appeal, appellees, Ross and Brenda Linert, contend that appellant, Ford Motor Company, is responsible for the severe injuries Ross sustained in a motor-vehicle accident caused when an intoxicated driver, Adrien Foutz, struck Ross's 2005 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor ("CVPI") from behind, triggering a fuel-fed fire.

 [**P2]  [*470]   We address the Linerts' claim that the trial court should have instructed the jury on R.C. 2307.76(A)(2), Ohio's statute governing manufacturers' postmarket duty to warn consumers of risks associated with a product that are not discovered until after the product has been sold.

 [**P3]  We hold that the trial court properly refused to provide an instruction on the postmarket duty to warn, and accordingly, we reverse the appellate court's judgment.

RELEVANT BACKGROUND

The accident giving rise to the Linerts' claims

 [**P4]  On November 11, 2007, Ross Linert, a veteran police officer with the Austintown Township police, was on patrol in a department-issued 2005 CVPI manufactured by Ford. Ross was traveling at approximately 35 miles per hour, the posted speed limit, when he was struck from behind [****3]  by a car driven by Foutz. Foutz, whose blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit in Ohio, was in a 4,000 pound Cadillac Deville traveling at speeds estimated at 90 to 110 miles per hour—three times the posted speed limit.

 [**P5]  Ross alleged that upon collision, the CVPI's fuel-sender unit1 separated from the fuel tank, creating a hole in the fuel tank that released fuel and ignited, spreading fire from the rear of the vehicle into the passenger compartment. Ross was able to escape, but he sustained severe, painful burns to nearly a third of his body, including his face, head, arms, and legs. He is now disabled.

 [***1221] The Linerts' claims

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149 Ohio St. 3d 469 *; 2016-Ohio-8445 **; 75 N.E.3d 1218 ***; 2016 Ohio LEXIS 3139 ****; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P19,970

LINERT ET AL., APPELLEES, v. FOUTZ; FORD MOTOR COMPANY, APPELLANT.

Subsequent History: Reconsideration denied by Linert v. Foutz, 148 Ohio St. 3d 1413, 2017-Ohio-573, 2017 Ohio LEXIS 344, 69 N.E.3d 752 (Ohio, Feb. 22, 2017)

Prior History: APPEAL from the Court of Appeals for Mahoning County, No. 11 MA 00189, 2014-Ohio-4431, 20 N.E.3d 1047. [****1] 

Disposition: Judgment reversed and cause remanded.

CORE TERMS

manufacturer, fuel, tank, postmarket, consumers, placement, fire-suppression, trunk, collision, crimp, fuel-sender, failure-to-warn, dislodgements, sender-unit, punctured, trigger, axle

Torts, Products Liability, Types of Defects, Types of Defects, Marketing & Warning Defects, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation