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Zittrain Torts Playlist Spring 2013

Terri F. Soule, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. General Motors Corporation, Defendant and Appellant.

Headnote

When identifying possible design defects, should courts use tests other than the "consumer expectation" test? If so, under what circumstances would the alternative test be appropriate? Plaintiff got into a car accident while driving a car manufactured by the defendant. During the accident, the force of impact caused the "toe plate" beneath the plaintiff's feet to crumple up and fracture her ankles. The plaintiff sued on the theory that defendant had defectively designed the toe plate, thereby 'enhancing' the damages she would otherwise suffered in a car accident. After the plaintiff won at the trial level, defendant appealed the case on the grounds that the trial court had erroneously instructed the jury on the "consumer expectation" test, with regard to the alleged design defect.