Cruz v. Daimlerchrysler Motors Corp.

66 A.3d 446 (R.I. 2013)



The appellate court will affirm the grant of summary judgment only if it concludes, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be decided and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.


Plaintiff husband and wife sued defendant auto dealership, asserting claims of negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and loss of consortium. The husband alleged he was cleaning a minivan he bought from defendant when both front airbags unexpectedly deployed, injuring him. The superior court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment as to all claims. Plaintiffs appealed. Plaintiffs argued that in dismissing their negligence claim, the trial court erred in failing to apply the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. The high court disagreed. 


Did the trial court err in granting summary judgment?




It was noted that the accident occurred three years after defendant sold plaintiffs the minivan. While the spontaneous deployment of air bags ordinarily did not occur in the absence of negligence, other responsible causes had not been sufficiently eliminated by the evidence to justify applying res ipsa loquitur. Plaintiffs' claim for negligent misrepresentation also failed because none of the evidence suggested that the statements of defendant's employee that the minivan was a safe vehicle and had no accident history were false when they were made. As the trial court properly granted defendant summary judgment on plaintiffs' claims of negligence and misrepresentation, the wife was barred from recovering damages for loss of consortium.

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