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Appeals Court Allows Wrongful Death Suit to Proceed Against Seatbelt Company

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals declined to reconsider a decision it made in March to allow a wrongful death lawsuit to proceed against the defendant, a seatbelt manufacturer blamed for the death of a man in a car accident.

The lawyers for the defendant, Autoliv Japan Ltd., asked the appeals court to certify a question submitted to the Georgia Supreme Court about whether products liability laws in Georgia allowed the seatbelt company to be considered liable even if not actively involved in the development of the design or specifications for the products.

Initially, Judge William Duffey, Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled the state’s laws did not allow the company to be held liable. The appeals court disagreed and revived two of three claims thrown out by the district court in a summary judgment last year.

The appellate court stated that while state law in Georgia does protect sellers of products from some liability, those rules do not “apply to actual manufacturers such as Autoliv.”

The accident behind the case

The wrongful death lawsuit stems from a single-vehicle accident in 2013. A Mazda vehicle driven by Micah Andrews went off the road and hit a row of trees. Andrews was wearing his seatbelt at the time of impact, but the air bag did not deploy. He hit his head on the steering column and died of the injury.

Andrews’ wife, Jamie, filed a lawsuit against Mazda, the maker of the air bag (Bosch LLC) and Autoliv. Both Bosch and Mazda settled the claims out of court.

If a loved one has died in an accident you believe to have been caused by another party’s negligence, consult a skilled Georgia wrongful death attorney with the Law Offices of Melvin S. Nash. Call the firm at 770.422.0878 or contact us online.


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