« Ind. Law - Still more on: Blood draw law might benefit from another look by the legislature [Updated] | Main | Ind. Decisions - "Notable Seventh Circuit opinion reversing (on procedural grounds) long drug courier sentence" »

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues one opinion late today

In TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, Inc., and Ford Motor Company v. Sally J. Moore, et al., a 31-page, 4-0 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:

Daniel Moore died when, despite wearing his seatbelt, he was ejected through the sunroof of his Ford Explorer vehicle during a rollover that followed a tire failure as he was driving on Interstate 65 near Edinburgh, Indiana. He was survived by his wife and one minor son. His widow, as personal representative of his estate, brought this wrongful death action. At the conclusion of a fourteen-day trial, the jury found the total damages to be $25,000,000 and allocated fault as follows: decedent Daniel Moore, 33%; defendant Ford Motor Company ("Ford"), 31%; nonparty Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company ("Goodyear"), 31%; and defendant TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, Inc. ("TRW"), 5%. Judgments were entered against Ford in the sum of $7,750,000 and against TRW in the sum of $1,250,000. Appeals were commenced by both defendants, and the plaintiff cross-appealed. Finding the evidence insufficient to support the jury's verdicts against Ford and TRW, the Court of Appeals reversed as to both defendants. Ford Motor Co. v. Moore, 905 N.E.2d 418 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009). We granted transfer and now reverse the judgment as to TRW, reverse the allocation of fault to nonparty Goodyear, reverse the determination of total damages, and remand for retrial to (a) allocate 100% of the fault between the plaintiff and Ford, and (b) redetermine the total damages subject to fault allocation unless the plaintiff accepts remittitur as hereinafter specified. * * *

We reverse the trial court as to (a) its judgment against defendant TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, Inc., (b) its allocation of fault to nonparty Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, (c) the percentages of comparative fault assigned to Ford Motor Company and the plaintiff's decedent, and (d) the determination of total damages subject to fault allocation. In all other respects, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed. This cause is remanded for: (a) a new trial on the issue of allocation of fault between Ford Motor Company and the plaintiff's decedent; (b) a new trial on the issue of total damages unless the plaintiff accepts a remittitur revising the total damages sub-ject to comparative fault allocation to $15,974,583; and (c) if the fault of the plaintiff's decedent is greater than fifty percent, judgment in favor of Ford, but if the fault of the plaintiff's decedent is not greater than fifty percent, then application of the resulting fault percentages to the total damages and judgment in favor of the plaintiff accordingly.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 13, 2010 05:34 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions