WINNIPEG, Manitoba - A man has sued Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. here, claiming the Ford Contour's driver-side seat belt -which the company later recalled - released improperly during a rollover accident that left him a quadriplegic.
Also named in the lawsuit - filed in the Court of Queen's Bench, Winnipeg Center - is TRW Inc., the Cleveland seat belt manufacturer.
Christopher Guiboche, 29, said he and his fiancee were driving in his mother's new Contour when the accident occurred. He said they both had their seat belts buckled. Guiboche said he swerved to avoid hitting a skunk, and the car hit gravel and flipped.
His lawsuit contends that the seat belt released improperly as the car was rolling.
Dennis Troniak, Guiboche's lawyer in Winnipeg, said his client was injured when he was thrown against the roof of the car.
Guiboche's fiancee, whose seat belt did not unlock, was unhurt.
The lawsuit accuses Ford of 'failing to perform all necessary testing to determine the safety and efficacy of the seat belts utilized in their automotive product.'
Jim Hartford, a spokesman for Ford, declined to comment on the lawsuit. But Hartford confirmed that 18,200 Contours and Mystiques were recalled for seat belt problems in January 1996. Among those flagged was the vehicle owned by Guiboche's mother.
Hartford said the recall was due to the cracks in a part that anchors the outboard ends of the belt to the front-seat frame. It required installation of reinforcement plates.
'This is not related to what is alleged in the suit,' said Hartford. He added that Ford of Canada has had no complaints regarding faulty buckles.