The Kentucky Court of Appeals has ordered in a trial in a products liability case against Nissan for failure to equip at 2002 vehicle to have a rear camera or back-up sensors.
Sandra and Curtis Messerly alleged that the failure of their 2002 Xterra to have either device caused the death of their 19-month old son, who was killed when his mother backed-up the vehicle.
the Appellants’ evidence was concentrated in two areas: showing that advanced back-up aids were used in some Nissan vehicles marketed outside the United States and statistics showing the number of injuries in backing collisions. Nissan contended that the evidence offered by the Appellants did not raise an issue of material fact because Nissan’s motion for summary judgment did not question the feasibility of back-up aids and that the evidence of backing injuries only served to confirm that the risk was obvious and well understood by consumers. Moreover, the Appellants did not have an expert that would opine that a reasonable manufacturer would have employed the back-up aids in 2002, or that Nissan had violated an industry or governmental standard by not putting back-up aids on the 2002 Xterra.
(1) a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether the design of the Nissan Xterra was unreasonably dangerous and that the trial court erred when it ruled that Nissan was entitled to judgment as a matter of law; (2) Texas federal courts have allowed two similar wrongful death backover cases to be tried by a jury, despite a Texas statute that creates a presumption of non-defectiveness where a vehicle meets government safety standards; and (3) the reasoning of the trial judge in deciding to grant summary judgment in favor of the defendants was inappropriate because the video recordings of court hearings show that the judge made factual findings that were not based on any evidence in the record, that the judge conducted an independent investigation of the blind zone on his own vehicle, and ignored Kentucky law on summary judgment.