Illinois appellate court rules on GM product liability lawsuit

The Illinois 1st District Appellate Court vacated a direct verdict for GM and remanded the matter for trial, finding that the plaintiff did present enough evidence of a design defect to warrant product liability. In 1999, the plaintiff sustained a severe burn injury after the rear seat of his van exploded into flames after trying to start the van for 10 minutes. At trial in the Cook County Circuit Court, the plaintiff alleged that the design defect rendered the van a fire hazard, but the jury found in favor of GM. The appeals court, however, ruled that GM should have tested the van in order to detect the defect and prevent automobile accidents, and the fact that the victim repeatedly tried to start the van was an act an ordinary consumer would perform without “expect[ing] the interior of the van to ignite.” The plaintiff’s expert presented sufficient evidence to support that specific industry standards of care were not met for the particular defects he identified.

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