Politicians don’t always (or usually) agree on the big issues, especially if they’re from separate parties. However, in the case of Ford Motors and its defective vehicles that led to serious accidents, 39 states and the District of Columbia have come together in a bipartisan coalition to put the safety of their citizens first.
Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III of Tennessee joined that fight on April 9, 2020. According to the official announcement:
“Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III has joined a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from 39 states and the District of Columbia defending the rights of Tennesseans and all Americans to hold companies accountable for defective products in their home-state courts.”
The issue on the table
The Minnesota and Montana Supreme Courts ruled that Ford Motor Company be sued for defects in their vehicles leading to serious accidents in the aforementioned states. Ford appealed to those same courts, arguing that any product-liability lawsuits should only be filed in the state where the vehicle was designed, manufactured or first sold.
In the end, 38 other states agreed with Minnesota and Montana, stressing that they have “strong sovereign and constitutional interests in ensuring that their own courts remain open to citizens injured within their borders,” according to the amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.
So far in 2020, Ford has already issued 3 major recalls on 4 of its vehicles, from car doors not latching properly to transmission failure to an improperly secured passenger seat belt buckle. All of these are cause for concern, have caused major accidents and have spurred government authorities to action.
How it’s being addressed
The states involved in this bipartisan coalition are asking that companies that have sold defective products be held responsible within their home courts, including Tennessee.
“Tennessee needs to be able to act, unencumbered, when our citizens are harmed by out-of-state companies that break our laws,” said Attorney General Slatery. “Whether we are talking about manufacturers of defective automotive products or those who deceptively market or distribute opioids, states must continue to hold them accountable no matter where they are located.”
Reversing Minnesota’s and Montana’s decision would make filing product liability suits difficult for their citizens. It also hinders the attorneys general from doing their jobs—that is protecting their states’ residents in state courts against outside companies that break their laws.
In other words, if a Ford consumer has a car accident in Tennessee due to a defect in the product, but the vehicle was manufactured, sold or designed in another state, that individual can’t file a lawsuit in Tennessee. This costs them both time and money, but Attorney General Slatery is one of many working to change that.
“Like many manufacturers, Ford chooses to sell mass-produced products throughout the country. It knows that those products might have design defects that could cause injuries in the States in which the products are sold,” according to the brief.
Therefore, the company shouldn’t be surprised when a resident from any state files a product liability claim.
At Gilreath and Associates, our defective product attorneys care about the safety of our fellow Tennesseans. If you or someone you know has been injured because of a defective product, contact our offices today to schedule a free initial consultation. We will use our 40+ years of experience to get you and your family the best compensation possible.