A Lakin loss? Matoesian throws out suits against DaimlerChrysler

By Jeff Gelber | Sep 29, 2004

Maureen McGlynn of McGlynn & Luther represented DaimlerChrysler

EDWARDSVILLE-Judge Andy Matoesian ruled against the Lakin Law Firm last week, throwing out two lawsuits that alleged DaimlerChrysler was responsible for injuries to truck drivers delivering their new cars to dealers.

Matoesian's ruling could have a major impact upon similar lawsuits filed in Madison County Circuit Court against other automakers such as General Motors, Nissan, and Ford.

"I would like to think this means that all auto manufacturers would be able to get of these cases (in Madison County)," said defense attorney Maureen McGlynn of St. Louis-based McGlynn & Luther, which represented DaimlerChrysler. "But we cannot predict anything."

In the DaimlerChryslser lawsuit, Cassens Transport employees Jimmy Cooper of Tennessee and Claudell Belton, claim they both hurt themselves while tying cars down with chains on a trailer.

Cassens and Gainesville, Georgia-based trailer maker Cottrell remain plaintiffs in separate but related lawsuits.

Lawyers Charles Armbruster of the Lakin Firm and Brian Wendler of Wendler & Ezra had argued that DaimlerChrysler was responsible for injuries because it 'required' Cassens to chain down its cars to deliver them safely.

DaimlerChrysler held it did not and Judge Matoesian agreed.

In issuing a summary judgment, Matoesian relied upon an unpublished "Rule 23 Order" from a lawsuit involving identical claims against Cottrell and DaimlerChrysler. In that case DaimlerChrysler also obtained summary judgment, affirmed on appeal by the Fifth District Appellate Court in Mt. Vernon.

"Certainly, we'll use the order as precedent in other cases," said McGlynn, who added that almost all cases of this kind from across the U.S. have been 'consolidated' in Madison County.

Cooper's accident occurred in November 2001 near Joliet. He claims he was tightening a chain to secure a Dodge Ram truck when the chain "popped," causing him to hurt his neck. 

Belton says he received a 'jolt' while securing a chain in Tennessee and later had rotator cuff surgery.

Both plaintiffs had argued that Chrysler assumed a duty to the users of the auto transporter rigs, to ensure a safe product.

DaimlerChrysler Corporation argued that it had not taken any action sufficient to impose a duty upon itself, and that the rig manufacturer alone was responsible for the safe design of its products.



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