Whenever you rent a car from a car rental company, you should expect to get a safe vehicle to drive – one that is in good condition and free from defects. But what if the car you rent–a 2018 Ford Fiesta, for example–is defective, putting you and your family in a dangerous situation that leads to serious injury or death?
Chris Glover, the managing lawyer of Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office, recently filed a product liability lawsuit against Ford Motor Company and Enterprise Leasing that demonstrates the tragic consequences when corporations fail in their duty to provide safe vehicles to their customers.
A Preventable Tragedy
Chris filed the lawsuit in the State Court of Clayton County, Georgia, on behalf of Tracy Ladd, widower of Jyotika Ladd. According to the lawsuit, on April 26, 2019, Mr. and Mrs. Ladd were passengers in the 2018 Ford Fiesta that Heena Kampani rented from Enterprise.
As the vehicle was traveling south on I-85 in Atlanta, it started shaking and stalling, forcing Ms. Kampani to pull the Ford Fiesta onto the left-hand shoulder of the busy interstate next to a concrete divider. She managed to pull the vehicle over just as it lost power. The breakdown caused the rear of the car to partially protrude into the far-left lane as it stopped.
Mrs. Kampani safely exited the vehicle. Then, Mrs. Ladd removed her seatbelt so she could maneuver herself over the car’s gearshift and exit from the driver’s side as well. At that time, a 2016 Chevrolet Impala, also traveling southbound, struck the Ford Fiesta. Mrs. Ladd was caught in the violent impact of the collision, causing her to suffer severe injury and shock. She later died from her injuries.
“…had the defendants acted responsibly.”
Chris says that the accident would not have happened and that Mrs. Ladd’s life would not have ended that day had the defendants done what was right and not put a defective vehicle into the stream of commerce.
“The series of events that led to this tragic accident could have been prevented, and Mrs. Ladd’s life spared, had the defendants acted responsibly. Instead, Ford Motor Company knowingly manufactured and sold a vehicle that was defective and unreasonably unsafe. Enterprise negligently rented the Ford Fiesta without warning Mrs. Kampani and Mrs. Ladd of the possible defect. The already dangerous circumstances were compounded by the inattention of the driver behind the wheel of the Chevy Impala, resulting in his crashing into the Ford Fiesta.”
— Chris Glover, Managing Attorney, Beasley Allen Atlanta
Ford’s Defective Drive Axle
Information that Chris and Beasley Allen investigators obtained before filing the product liability lawsuit revealed a defect in the drive axle. This critical component extends out from the differential and supplies power to the front-wheel drive of the car. The drive axle had come out of its housing, causing the Ford Fiesta to shake and stall.
Ford designed and manufactured its Fiesta cars knowing the drive axle was subject to failure and could lose power. Even so, the company placed the vehicles into the stream of commerce. Because of this, Ford’s conduct constitutes a willful, reckless, and wanton disregard for life, the Ladds’ product liability lawsuit alleges.
Moreover, one should not disregard car rental companies when a defective rental vehicle causes an accident that results in an injury or death. State laws vary, but Enterprise and other rental car companies have a responsibility to provide safe, functioning vehicles to their customers. Ford and other automakers don’t just sell cars through dealerships, they also distribute them through national car rental chains.
If you have a client who has been harmed in an auto accident potential involving a defective product and would like to speak with our product liability attorneys about your case, contact Chris Glover at 800-898-2034 or by email to [email protected].