Williamson v. Mazda –Recent Supreme Court Seatbelt Holding Opens New Doors for Products Liability Plaintiffs

In Williamson v. Mazda, the Supreme Court ruled that a deceased woman’s relatives could sue her vehicle’s manufacturer for failing to install lap-and-shoulder belts, even though the manufacturer had complied with all relevant federal safety regulations. The decedent, Mrs. Williamson, was killed while riding in the backseat of a Mazda minivan and wearing a lap belt, the only available seatbelt in the backseat. The other passengers with lap-and-shoulder belts survived the accident.

In the case, Mazda raised its compliance with all federal safety regulations as a defense. The Supreme Court ruled that federal safety regulations do not preempt state law products liability claims. Rejecting Mazda’s defense, the Court reasoned that an automaker still has a duty to take safety precautions in designing and constructing vehicles

In Louisiana, the Louisiana Products Liability Act (“LPLA”) applies to all products liability claims made after September 1, 1988. To recover under the LPLA, a plaintiff must sue a company that meets the LPLA’s statutory definition of a “manufacturer.” The plaintiff must also prove that a product’s defective condition was the actual or proximate cause of his injury and that the product was unreasonably dangerous. Additionally, the plaintiff must prove that the product was used in its reasonably anticipated use.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, you may have legal rights. Broussard, David & Moroux’s attorneys are experienced in products liability litigation and are available to assess your claims. For further questions, contact Broussard, David & Moroux at 888-337-2323(toll free) or 337-233-2323 (local).

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