Case Study – Product Liability Case: Moyer v. General Motors

A vehicular pursuit can result in all sorts of unpleasant outcomes, and losing a hubcap would generally rank among the least worrisome. But for one unfortunate trooper, it was as devastating as a high speed crash.

State Trooper Jason Moyer was engaged in the pursuit of another vehicle when his squad car lost a hubcap. He dutifully obtained a replacement and set about its installation, but during the process the air valve became wedged underneath the new hubcap. Trooper Moyer reached behind the hubcap in an attempt to free the valve, and sliced his finger to the bone on the razor sharp inner edge of the hubcap.

Under ordinary circumstances this would have been a severe injury, but one that would have healed with time. However, in this case Trooper Moyer developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. CRPS caused the bones and skin of his right hand to twist and warp into a claw-like appendage. Because a police officer must be weapons certified with both hands and able to affect an arrest on a resisting subject, this ended Trooper Moyer’s career.

I agreed to represent Trooper Moyer and brought suit against General Motors for the faulty manufacture of an inherently dangerous product. The company’s lawyers argued strenuously, and the case mushroomed into a massive litigation battle culminating in a four day trial. During the trial, the inherently dangerous nature of the hubcap became clear. Despite a warning as to the extreme sharpness of the inner edge, two jurors cut themselves when the hubcap was passed around as evidence. Later during closing arguments, the primary defense lawyer for General Motors attempted to demonstrate that the hubcap was safe and also cut himself! Needless to say, his final argument for the hubcap as a perfectly safe piece of equipment was not convincing.

The jury agreed with my assessment of the hubcap and came back with a $950,000 dollar verdict. This amount was more than justified given the permanent and career ending nature of the injury. According to General Motors, this case represents the first time a plaintiff has ever been awarded damages for injury caused by a hubcap. The jury’s verdict was an excellent result for a deserving client, and is one I am still proud of to this day.

About the Author: Richmond product liability attorney Chris Guedri has over 30 years of experience handing complex defective products cases. Chris is also experienced in handling trucking and car accident cases in Richmond and throughout Virginia, some involving wrongful death or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Recognized by his peers as a superb litigator, Chris has been listed in the book Best Lawyers in America since 1995 and in 2008 he was inducted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, an organization of attorneys who are elected to membership based on their reputation for excellence. He has also been included among the “Legal Elite Best Lawyers in Virginia” by Virginia Business Magazine.