Senate passes ‘crashworthiness’ measure undoing Supreme Court rulingby Dara Kam | March 16th, 2011
Siding with the Ford Motor Co. and automobile manufacturers, the Senate approved a measure overturning a Florida Supreme Court decision in a “crashworthiness” case dealing with enhanced injuries in accidents.
The bill (SB 142) overturns the 2001 ruling in the D’Amario vs. Ford Motor Co. case in which the court decided that jurors cannot consider the cause of the accident when determining fault in injuries resulting not from the initial accident but from a defect in the car such as a faulty gas tank.
Sen. Maria Sachs, R-Delray Beach, said that the bill, which would apply retroactively, would let vehicle manufacturers off the hook.
“We Floridians buy these vehicles and we are led to believe that they will be safe, and safe from inherent defects that will cause secondary issues that can cause even more damage, injuries to people,” she said. “Those manufacturers should be held accountable whether it’s a tractor, a motor vehicle.”
But Sen. John Thrasher said the change would allow juries to hear all the evidence in the cases by adding the drivers in the accidents to the jury verdict form.
“When the Supreme Court is wrong, as they were in this case, it’s I think incumbent upon this legislature to either reverse the case or tell them they’re wrong in some other way,” Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, argued.
“What they decided was the jury would not be able to hear all the evidence in these types of cases.
And that’s wrong. That’s absolutely wrong,” he said.
The Senate approved the measure by a 28-12 vote, with one Democrat voting in favor and one Republican voting against.