Automotive Product Liability Litigation

Overview

Dykema stands up every day for what the men and women in the automotive industry do. We understand the complex competing considerations involved in product design and development, testing, integration, and manufacture, and we know how to win cases by explaining difficult scientific principles to judges and juries. This is what it takes to successfully represent automotive manufacturers and suppliers in product liability cases throughout the country. It is our passion.

We are driven to provide an unparalleled level of service to our clients, and we have racked up an impressive track record of experience and success.

Dykema’s team of “tremendous” and “well prepared” litigators (Chambers USA) provides high quality and high value litigation, trial and appellate, and counseling services to the worldwide automotive industry, including automakers, automotive products manufacturers and Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers. We also help our clients avoid potential litigation with proactive product development counsel and advice.

Our product liability lawyers represent clients in courts across the country in a wide range of complex, high-profile cases involving high-stakes product liability, class action, and toxic tort claims. In addition to successfully defending at trial claims brought in some of the most challenging venues, Dykema is nationally acknowledged as a leader in case management and discovery counsel services. We have served as national coordinating counsel in specialty litigation involving asbestos, restraint systems, fuel systems, vehicle control and stability systems, roof structures, window glass, seats, electrical switches and systems, wheels, tires, brakes, suspension systems and general crashworthiness claims. 
 
Our defenses of even the toughest bet-the-company product liability lawsuits are predicated on our intimate knowledge of the technical features of our clients’ products, automotive design and development procedures, governmental and industry standards and practices, access to expert witnesses, and by our ability to quickly identify the key issues surrounding each claim. The result is a sustained record of bringing even the most challenging automotive-related product liability lawsuits to verdict in some of the nation’s toughest jurisdictions.

Experience Matters

  • Alexander v. Kia Motors America, Inc. After unsuccessfully contesting class certification with prior defense counsel, Kia retained Dykema to conduct merits discovery and try this Orange County, California, state court class action alleging unfair business practices in connection with the design of rear seat belt systems. Dykema obtained a defense verdict.
  • Chrysler v. Hutchinson FTS. Dykema obtained a jury verdict of $47.3 million in Oakland County, Michigan, in favor of an auto manufacturer against a Tier 1 supplier in a supplier warranty cost recovery action.
  • Evangelista v. Key Safety Systems. Dykema obtained a defense verdict after a two-week trial for Key Safety, a global leader in the design, development and manufacturing of automotive safety-critical components and systems. Plaintiff alleged faulty deployment of a front passenger airbag. However, after hearing Key’s evidence, a Bergen County, New Jersey jury rejected plaintiff’s claims and exonerated Key Safety’s technology.
  • Katzkin Leather v. Nissan North America, Inc. Dykema obtained summary judgment and collected costs against an after-market leather supplier and several auto dealers on claims that an auto manufacturer engaged in unfair trade practices and interfered with contractual relations by advising dealers it was unsafe to install after-market interior leather trim on front seats in vehicles equipped with advanced airbag technology.
  • Kline v. General Motors. Dykema obtained a defense verdict in St. Louis City, Missouri, after a four-week trial of allegations that a fuel system design defect caused a post-collision fire and burn death of a 16-year-old occupant of a sport utility vehicle. The court of appeals affirmed the decision.

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