Earlier this month, an appellate court in Virginia issued an opinion in a product liability case against an auto maker, alleging that the manufacturer failed to manufacture a soft-top convertible capable of protecting the occupants during a rollover collision. In the case, Holiday Motor Corporation v. Walters, the court ultimately held that the auto maker did not have a duty to manufacture a soft-top convertible capable of safely withstanding a rollover collision.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit was brought under the theory that the auto maker breached the implied warranty of merchantability. This legal theory relies on the implied, or unstated, warranty that the manufacturer of a product makes to all consumers that a product is fit for a particular purpose. A plaintiff making an argument for a breach of the implied warranty of merchantability is claiming that the product purchased was not fit for the purpose for which they purchased the product.
The Facts of the Case
Walters was driving a 1995 soft-top Mazda Miata convertible on a two-lane road when she noticed an object fall off the pick-up truck in front of her. She attempted to avoid colliding with the object by steering the car to the right. As she did so, however, she left the roadway and traveled up a sloped embankment, rolling the vehicle. The vehicle ultimately came to a stop upside down, leaning against a tree.