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October 6, 2008

Illinois Law Does Not Require Motor Vehicle Manufacturers to Consider Risk to Occupants of Other Vehicles

Illinois law does not impose a duty on automakers to design a vehicle which is safe to crash into, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Rennert v. Great Dane LP, 7th Cir., No. 07-2989, 9-11-08, arose out of an accident in which Rennert was injured, and his wife killed, when their minivan collided with the back of a trailer designed by Great Dane.  The trailer's underride guard failed and Rennert's van slid underneath the trailer.  The court said that Illinois courts had on two prior occasions spoken to the issue and, in consistent holdings, determined that a manufacturer has a duty to design a vehicle that is reasonably safe for its occupants but owes no duty to those who collide with that vehicle, even if the harm was foreseeable.  While several courts in other jurisdictions have ruled to the contrary, "the choice is Illinois' to make," the court said, "and it is our responsibility to respect it."  There being no indication that the Illinois Supreme Court would overturn its prior ruling, the federal court no reason to certify the question to the state court.  See the report in Product Liability Daily.

JDP

October 6, 2008 | Permalink

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