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McGrath v. GMC

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

January 18, 2002, Filed

No. 00-4237

Opinion

 [*507]  PER CURIAM. Lee McGrath, executor of the estate of Nicol McGrath, appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment to General Motors Corporation (GM). McGrath brought a state-law strict-liability action in tort against GM, claiming that the Buick LeSabre in which [**2]  Nicol McGrath was riding  [*508]  was defectively designed because it failed to meet consumer expectations of safety for side-impact crash protection. The district court granted GM's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment on McGrath's tort claim. We also affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment on McGrath's wrongful death and survivorship claims, since there is no basis for liability once the tort claim has been dismissed.

On March 13, 1994, Mark Beach lost control of his Buick LeSabre while making a right turn. The car skidded and entered the oncoming lane of traffic. The car continued to skid sideways, until it was struck by an oncoming southbound vehicle. Beach's car was struck on the passenger side door, which crumpled. The parties disagree as to the speed of the vehicles when the collision occurred. Nicol McGrath was a seatbelted passenger in the front seat of the car. Ms. McGrath suffered trauma to her chest, and died two hours later.

Lee McGrath sued GM, alleging that the LeSabre's design was defective because it was "more dangerous than an ordinary consumer would expect." This cause of action [**3]  is created by Ohio law. O.R.C. Ann. § 2307.75 (Anderson 2001).

During discovery, GM deposed Dan Beabout, the plaintiff's primary witness. After discovery had been conducted, GM filed for summary judgment on all claims. The motion for summary judgment pointed out that (1) Mr. Beabout provided no evidence of an alternative feasible design, as is required under Ohio law, (2) Mr. Beabout had not indicated a specific design defect in the LeSabre, and (3) McGrath presented no evidence of consumer expectations beyond conclusory statements and an inapplicable federal motor vehicle safety standard. The court granted summary judgment and dismissed McGrath's claims. Mr. McGrath filed a timely notice of appeal.

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26 Fed. Appx. 506 *; 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 1063 **

LEE L. MCGRATH, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee.

Notice:  [**1]  NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION. SIXTH CIRCUIT RULE 28(g) LIMITS CITATION TO SPECIFIC SITUATIONS. PLEASE SEE RULE 28(g) BEFORE CITING IN A PROCEEDING IN A COURT IN THE SIXTH CIRCUIT. IF CITED, A COPY MUST BE SERVED ON OTHER PARTIES AND THE COURT. THIS NOTICE IS TO BE PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED IF THIS DECISION IS REPRODUCED.

Prior History: On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. 99-00006. Gaughan. 09-01-00.

Disposition: AFFIRMED.

CORE TERMS

feasible, consumer, manufacturer, side-impact, speeds

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Summary Judgment Review, General Overview, Standards of Review, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Genuine Disputes, Materiality of Facts, Torts, Products Liability, Theories of Liability, Strict Liability, Governments, Legislation, Effect & Operation, Transportation Law, Private Vehicles, Safety Standards, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Burdens of Production, Types of Defects, Design Defects, Elements, Causation, Airbags