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Show v. Ford Motor Co.

March 17, 2010

DAVID SHOW AND MARIA FEDERICI, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs David Show and Maria Federici ("Show" and "Federici," or "Plaintiffs") bring this product liability action against Defendant Ford Motor Company ("Defendant"), alleging strict liability and negligence. Plaintiffs contend that a 1993 Ford Explorer manufactured by Defendant was defective and unreasonably dangerous, causing it to roll over after a low-speed collision with another vehicle. Plaintiffs seek damages for personal injury, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, medical bills, and lost wages. Defendant has raised a counterclaim against Show for contributory negligence. Defendant now seeks summary judgment on the grounds that Plaintiffs have not disclosed an expert witness to opine on the vehicle's defective condition. On January 26, 2010, the Court conducted an oral argument on the motion. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND FACTS

As required when considering a motion for summary judgment, the following facts are either uncontested or presented in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs when contested.*fn1

Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

A. Motor Vehicle Accident on September 24, 2002

At approximately 9:00 a.m. on September 24, 2002, Plaintiffs were traveling in a 1993 Ford Explorer ("Explorer") operated by Show, with Federici in the passenger seat. PRS*fn2 ¶¶ 10, 11. Show asserts he was driving the vehicle at a speed between 25 to 30 miles per hour.*fn3

Id. at ¶ 12. As Show drove through the intersection of Elizabeth and Washington Streets in Chicago, Illinois, the Explorer was struck in the left rear side by a 1998 Dodge Neon ("Neon") traveling under five miles per hour.*fn4 Id. at ¶¶ 10, 11.

The collision sent the Explorer spinning out of Show's control and it then rolled over at least three times before coming to rest on the driver's side of the car. DS ¶ 11; PRS ¶ 27. Defendant contends that the Explorer hit at least one parked vehicle during the spinout, but Plaintiffs deny the Explorer made contact with any parked vehicle. PRS ¶ 12; DS ¶ 12. Show testified in his deposition that during the crash he lunged forward in the vehicle and "I thought I was going to be decapitated. I thought I was going to die." PRS ¶ 29. Show then blacked out and came to with "the truck . . . on my chest." Id.

B. Plaintiffs' Claims

Plaintiffs originally filed a complaint in June 2004 in the Circuit Court of Cook County, but voluntarily dismissed the case in April 2007. Plaintiffs later re-filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County on April 15, 2008, and Defendant removed the case to federal court on May 28, 2008. The parties consented to this Court's jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1).

Plaintiffs' complaint raises both strict liability and negligence claims. In counts I & III, Plaintiffs allege that the Explorer was defective and unreasonably dangerous for its intended use when it left Defendant's possession, specifically that it was designed and manufactured such that it was inherently unstable and inclined to roll over in the course of foreseeable circumstances. Count I further alleges that Defendant failed to provide adequate warnings to consumers of the dangers or inherent hazards. In counts II & IV, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant was negligent in the design and manufacture of the Explorer, in failing to perform adequate testing, and in failing to warn the public of the unreasonably dangerous condition.

C. Discovery Proceedings and Disclosure of Expert Witnesses

Following removal to the district court, the parties agreed upon a schedule for discovery. The deadline for disclosure of Plaintiffs' Rule 26(a)(2) expert witnesses was originally January 5, 2009. Due to delays in fact discovery, the Court extended the cutoff date, requiring Plaintiffs to disclose expert witnesses by April 15, 2009. On April 7, 2009, Plaintiffs were granted additional time to May 12, 2009. After failing to meet this deadline, this Court again granted an extension to August 21, 2009. Plaintiffs were subsequently given one final extension to October 7, 2009.

On October 7, 2009, Plaintiffs disclosed two expert witnesses. One was Dr. Ernest P. Chiodo ("Dr. Chiodo"), a biomedical and industrial engineer, who will testify that Show's injuries were caused by the forces of the rollover accident. The other is Richard Galuska ("Mr. Galuska"), C.P.A., who will address Show's loss of income as a result of the accident. Id. Plaintiffs ...


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