West Virginia Rejects Claim That Ford Should Have Used Laminated Glass in Side Window

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has ruled that a products liability claim was preempted by FMVSS 205, a safety standard that it says permits vehicle manufacturers to make a choice between tempered glass and laminated glass in side windows.

The court felt compelled to rely on Geier v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 529 U.S. 861 (2000), "the guiding law of the land," even though it felt that the decision was "flawed because it requires courts to look beyond the properly-enacted federal statute or law and divine an agency’s intent from extraneous materials to determine the preemptive effect of a regulation."

The bottom line: "the NHTSA gave manufacturers the option to choose to install either tempered glass or laminated glass in side windows of vehicles in FMVSS 205, permitting the plaintiff to proceed with a state tort action would foreclose that choice and would interfere with federal policy."

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reached the opposite result in O’Hara v. General Motors Corp., 508 F.3d 753 (5th Cir. 2007).

The West Virginia opinion in Morgan v. Ford Motor Co., No. 34139,  (W.Va. June 18, 2009) may be read here.