Have you ever wondered what happens if you are sued after a crash caused by a defective part on your car? Outcomes vary, but one recent case from southern California demonstrates the twists and turns these cases may take.
Solomon Methenge was driving his Nissan Infiniti when he crashed into a minivan driven by a mother. The mother and both of her passengers, her young children, were killed.
Methenge was hospitalized for a full month, and when he was released, the state charged him with vehicular manslaughter. The victims’ family brought a civil lawsuit against him, seeking to recover money damages for the wrongful death of their loved ones.
All along, Methenge maintained that the brakes on his Infiniti were defective. He said that he pushed them all the way to the floor but that they did not respond. As a result, he said he had to try to steer clear of the young family.
Fast forward four years. The district attorney (DA) in charge of the criminal case dropped the case against Methenge, explaining that the state could not meet its burden of proving vehicular manslaughter against him beyond a reasonable doubt.
The DA explained that several Nissan cars had been recalled due to intermittent brake failure like that described by Methenge. In addition, Nissan had settled a major class action lawsuit complaining of brake failure. When the DA’s office contacted people who had been part of the class action lawsuit, they described braking conditions very similar to those described by Methenge.
In addition to the criminal charges having been dropped, the family dropped their civil lawsuit against Methenge. Together, the former adversaries have filed a new lawsuit against Nissan
Defective products can kill and badly injure people, particularly when they are incorporated into a major piece of machinery like a car. While every situation is different, it pays to consult with an experienced products liability lawyer if you believe defective car parts led to your accident. Only when car manufacturers are repeatedly held responsible will they become more careful.