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Hinkle v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

May 23, 2013

KERRY HINKLE, Administrator of the Estate of Kiara Hinkle, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DANNY C. REEVES, District Judge.

During the jury instruction conference held on May 22, 2013, the plaintiffs objected to the Court's proposed jury instructions. Specifically, the plaintiffs asserted that a separate and independent instruction was required for a negligence claim, despite the fact that such a claim was not presented during trial. The Court overruled this objection because a separate negligence instruction was not warranted under the facts presented. Additionally, the Court determined that the plaintiffs had abandoned this claim. With regard to the requested instruction, this opinion provides further explanation for the Court's ruling.

I.

The plaintiffs' proposed negligence instruction states:

It was the duty of the Defendant, Ford Motor Company ("Ford"), and its employees to exercise ordinary care in its design of the subject Mercury Mountaineer. [1] You will find for Plaintiffs Kerry Hinkle, as the Administrator of the Estate of Kiara Hinkle, Jason Turner, and Natya Stafford, if you are satisfied from the evidence that Ford failed to satisfy its duty and that such failure was a substantial factor in causing his injuries.
"Ordinary care" as applied to Ford means such care and skill expected of an ordinary company engaged in the same type of business as Ford and acting under the same or similar circumstances as Ford.
...
State whether you believe from the evidence that:
(1) Ford failed to exercise ordinary care in its design of the subject Mercury Mountaineer, and
(2) That such failure, if any, was a substantial factor in causing injury to Kiara Hinkle, Jason Turner, and Natya Stafford.

[Record No. 55, p. 2 (emphasis added)]

Rather than include this request, the Court included the following products liability instruction:

(1) Plaintiffs Kerry Hinkle, as the Administrator of the Estate of Kiara Hinkle, Jason Turner, and Natya Stafford, allege that Defendant Ford Motor Company defectively designed the 2004 All-Wheel Drive ("AWD") Mercury Mountaineer by not equipping it with Electronic Stability Control ("ESC"). The plaintiffs allege that this rendered the vehicle defective and unreasonably dangerous. The elements of plaintiffs' product liability claims are as follows:
(A) First, Ford Motor Company's design of the 2004 AWD Mercury Mountaineer did not conform to the generally recognized and prevailing standards or the state-of-the-art at the time the ...

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