Case details

Speed and slope of road led to crash, defense argued





Result type

Not present

cervical, fracture, fusion, neck
On Feb. 19, 2009, plaintiff Edward Quijada, 38, a contractor, was driving his 2006 Ford F-150 on westbound U.S. Route 50, toward South Lake Tahoe. His vehicle was equipped with a 6-inch after-market lift kit, along with 20-inch wheels and 35-inch tires. In 2006, an authorized Ford dealership, Maita Ford, sent a new Ford F-150 to Dealer Services International to have the lift kit, and oversized wheels and tires, installed. After the installation, the truck was sold by Maita Investments to its original owner in 2006. Quijada then purchased the used vehicle in 2008. On Feb. 19, 2009, it had allegedly been snowing on and off. At approximately 5:45 p.m., Quijada lost control of his vehicle on black ice, slid up an embankment, and flipped over in mid-air, landing on the roof. Quijada was paralyzed in the accident. Quijada sued the manufacturers and installers of his truck’s lift kit, Ford Motor Co., Transamerican Dissolution Company LLC (also known as Dealer Services International) and TAP Worldwide LLC (the successor-in-interest to Dealer Services International). Quijada also sued Maita Investments Inc. (the successor-in-interest to Maita Ford); and the manufacturer of the truck’s seat belts, TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. (formally known as TRW Inc.), TRW Automotive Inc., TRW Automotive U.S., L.L.C., TRW Vehicle Safety Systems Inc., and TRW Safety Systems Inc. Quijada alleged that the defendants were negligent and strictly liable for the defective product. Prior to trial, Ford Motor, Transamerican Dissolution, TAP Worldwide, and the TRW parties confidentially settled with Quijada. Thus, the matter proceeded to trial against Maita Investments only. Quijada claimed that although it had been snowing on and off on the date of the accident, the weather had let up by the time of the crash and road conditions were visibly unremarkable. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that, based on a strict products-liability theory, Maita Investments defectively designed the subject Ford F-150 due to the installation of the lift kit, tires and wheels prior to the sale of the new truck. In particular, counsel contended that the lift kit raised the center of gravity and made the vehicle more likely to roll over. Plaintiff’s counsel further argued that Maita Investments was negligent for installing the lift kit, and oversized wheels and tires, despite Ford Motor’s explicit warnings not to do so because it increased the risk of a rollover. Counsel contended that Maita Investments was also given similar warnings by Dealer Services (also known as Transamerican Dissolution and TAP Worldwide) after the equipment was installed. Counsel for Maita Investments argued that plaintiff’s counsel failed to prove that the lifted vehicle was more likely to roll over. Counsel contended that due to Quijada’s speed on the night of the accident and the slope of the embankment, any vehicle would have rolled over, including a stock, unlifted vehicle. Counsel further contended that plaintiff’s counsel had not tested the specific vehicle nor did plaintiff’s counsel present an exemplar to demonstrate any of the alleged deficiencies., The trial was bifurcated. Damages were not before the court. Quijada suffered a fracture dislocation of the C6-7 vertebrae. He was subsequently transported by air ambulance to UC Davis Medical Center, in Sacramento, where he underwent an emergency discectomy and fusion. However, Quijada was rendered C7 quadriplegic. According to defense counsel, Quijada has since regained some function in his upper extremities, but he still lacks all fine motor controls in both hands, and he is unable to feel or control his body from his chest to his toes. Thus, Quijada sought recovery of past medical costs, costs for his past home care services, future medical costs, and past and future loss of earnings. He also sought recovery of punitive damages. His wife, Amy Quijada, sought recovery of damages for her loss of consortium.
Superior Court of Sacramento County, Sacramento, CA

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