Duncan v. Ford Motor Company, et al.
(March 2010)

Keith W. McDaniel prevailed on a Motion for Summary Judgment, which was granted in favor of Ford Motor Company. The two-vehicle accident at issue occurred in 2004; however, plaintiff failed to preserve the subject 1993 Ford Taurus, the most critical piece of evidence in the case. The Court ruled that plaintiff failed to carry his burden in proving that the Ford Taurus was defective under the exclusive theories of liability found in the Louisiana Product Liability Act, LSA R.S. 9:2800.51.

On January 24, 2004, plaintiff, Michael Duncan, was operating his 1993 Ford Taurus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when he was involved in a head-on collision. Plaintiff alleged that the air bag of the Ford Taurus failed to deploy during the collision causing him to suffer severe injuries to his legs, head and mouth.

Duncan initiated the lawsuit in the 19th Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge on January 24, 2005. Ford subsequently filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that Duncan failed to present any evidence that his damages were caused by any alleged defect in the Ford vehicle made the basis of his claims, and that Duncan would be unable to develop such evidence because of his destruction of the subject vehicle. Duncan responded that, although direct evidence of a manufacturing defect did not exist, res ipsa loquitur applied establishing his burden of proof.

After the presentation of the facts, evidence and oral arguments, the Court concluded that Plaintiff failed to take the necessary steps to preserve the 1993 Ford Taurus. Furthermore, the Court concluded that Plaintiff failed to carry his burden of proving that the Ford Taurus was unreasonably dangerous, or that any unreasonably dangerous or defective condition in it caused Plaintiff’s injuries. Accordingly, the Court held that Duncan had not produced sufficient evidence to support his claim of a manufacturing defect, and rejected Plaintiff’s application of the evidentiary doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.