Defective exhaust system in Kenworth caused brain damage, suit claims

Kelly Holleran Apr. 21, 2010, 8:22am

The owners of a trucking company have filed suit against the manufacturer of a truck they used in their business, alleging multiple defects caused toxic fumes to back into the truck's cabin and cause brain damage to one of the owners.

George and Judi Savoy doing business as Native American Express claim they purchased a 2008 Kenworth truck for $142,400 from defendant Central Illinois Trucks and financed the purchase through PACCAR, the company that also designed and manufactured the vehicle. The Kenworth truck contained a diesel particulate filter regeneration system known as a Regan system designed by defendant Cummins, according to the complaint filed April 12 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Since purchasing the vehicle, the Savoys have been forced to submit the truck to the defendants' service facilities multiple times because of various defects and malfunctioning component parts, the suit states.

"In spite of multiple opportunities to fix the defects and remedy the safety and service problems, the Defendants were unable to fix or remedy the ongoing material defects and operation deficiencies," the complaint says. "That among the defects in the truck, the Regan System is faulty and defective as designed resulting in engine shut-down on frequent intervals, rendering the vehicle a safety hazard to the Plaintiffs and the traveling public."

Because of the multiple defects they experienced with the truck, the Savoys claim they were forced to incur substantial economic loss. In addition, Judi Savoy, while operating the truck on an interstate through Illinois and Missouri on Dec. 23, 2008, was overcome by toxic and poisonous fumes, according to the complaint.

"A defective exhaust stack caused toxic fumes to enter into the operator compartment," the suit states. "She (Judi Savoy) became overcome by the toxic and poisonous fumes and nearly crashed."

Because of the incident, Judi Savoy sustained serious and permanent brain damage. She now suffers from memory loss, changes in her personality and behavior, loss of income and a permanent diminution in her future employability, the complaint says.

George Savoy says he suffered a loss of consortium, love and companionship because of his wife's injuries.

The Savoys blame Central Illinois Trucks in part for their problems, alleging the company negligently delivered a dangerous and defective truck, failed to warn of the hazardous condition with the exhaust system and failed to deliver adequate dealer preparation and inspection before delivering the truck.

They also partially place fault on defendants PACCAR and Kenworth, saying the companies negligently designed a defective exhaust system in the truck, manufactured parts in a defective and sub-standard way, failed to equip the truck with sensors or warning devices and failed to properly inspect the truck for defects in the exhaust system.

In their nine-count complaint, the Savoys are seeking a judgment of more than $450,000.

Stephen P. McGlynn of McGlynn and McGlynn in Belleville will be representing them.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-169.

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