A product liability suit stemming from the failure of a driver's airbag to inflate was dismissed properly without trial, according to a federal appeals court in Cincinnati.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to revive a suit against General Motors by Tammy McCoy, the owner of a 1995 Chevrolet Camaro.
Her suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kentucky, claimed the airbag failed to inflate in a 1996 accident in which she lost control of the car and struck a hillside head-on. McCoy contended GM violated the warranty in the Camaro owner's manual. The manual stated that the airbag was designed to inflate 'in moderate to severe frontal or near-frontal crashes' at speeds above the 9-to-15-mph threshold.
But the appeals court said there was insufficient evidence that McCoy's car was involved in the type of accident covered by that provision in the manual.
'The post-accident photographs showed there was no head-on impact. These photographs show no damage to the front of McCoy's car,' the court said.
In addition, it cited testimony of her own expert witness on the angle of impact with the hillside and the estimated speed of the car, saying the expert failed to make the necessary calculations to determine the airbag deployment threshold.
The lower court judge properly rejected the expert's opinion as speculative, the court said.
Terry Rhadigan, a GM spokesman, said there was no defect: 'The airbag system in her Camaro performed as designed and intended. The fact the airbag did not deploy indicates the minimum deployment threshold was not met during the collision.'
There will be no further appeal, according to McCoy's lawyer, Ned Pillersdorf of Prestonsburg.