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Priester v. Cromer (S.C. Aug. 2, 2010)

Underage Preston Cromer was drunk driving and speeding in the early morning hours of August 17, 2002, when he drove off the road and rolled his Ford F-150 pickup. Cromer's infant son was not wearing his seatbelt (nor, I imagine, was in a car seat), and was ejected from the vehicle and died.

This was, Cromer's mother argued, the financial responsibility of Ford, because it used tempered glass instead of laminated glass. Of course, while laminated glass reduces the risk of ejection to unbelted passengers, it increases the risk of injury to belted passengers, and no one has developed shape-shifting technology that permits vehicle windows to shift depending whether passengers are belted. In reality, trial lawyers will always sue, because there is no requirement for jurors to be consistent: if there's an injury in a laminated-glass case, the lawyers can sue for failure to use tempered safety glass, and, as in this case, vice versa.

Fortunately, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that this lawsuit was preempted by NHTSA regulations. But keep in mind that this is exactly the sort of lawsuit that trial lawyers and the Obama administration want to promote when they oppose preemption. [Priester v. Cromer via Scheuerman]

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.