The Texas Court of Appeals has upheld a jury verdict in favor of General Motors in a product liability suit involving a 1976 Chevrolet Blazer.
The three-judge panel in San Antonio unanimously rejected a series of evidence-related objections to the verdict.
The case arose from a fatal head-on crash between the Blazer and a Chevrolet Beretta. All four occupants of the Beretta died. The Blazer's driver, Leonardo Rodriguez, was injured. His blood alcohol level was 0.21, more than twice the legal limit.
Rodriguez, who had no insurance or assets, was prosecuted and jailed. The victims' estates sued GM for strict product liability and negligence, alleging that brake defects caused Rodriguez to lose control and swerve into the Beretta's lane.
At trial in Starr County District Court, the estates' expert witness testified that the seals of the rear axles were defective because they allowed axle fluid to leak onto the right rear brake, causing the Blazer to veer left when the brakes were applied. The expert also testified that the brake system had been improperly installed.
GM denied any defect and asserted that the accident was caused by Rodriguez's intoxication.
The jury found in GM's favor. So did the appeals court. It found no error in allowing the jury to see a videotape with a computer-generated depiction of the crash. Similarly, the court said GM was properly allowed to offer testimony from an engineer concerning braking tests he performed on a different 1976 Blazer.
GM spokesman Terry Rhadigan said, 'The high-speed crash that took these young men's lives happened because another driver was intoxicated and was traveling on the wrong side of the road. As the jury initially determined, and the court of appeals has now upheld, this tragedy was not GM's fault.'
The estates' lawyer, James Ragan of Corpus Christi, said his clients intend to appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.