Not too long ago, we wrote about a lawsuit filed against Porsche arising out of the accident that resulted in the death of Fast and the Furious star Paul Walker. The suit, filed by Kristine Rodas, the widow of the driver of the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT in which Walker was riding, alleged that the car crashed and caught fire as a result of a failure in its suspension system and a lack of proper safety features. Rodas also alleged that Porsche “designed and manufactured the Carrera GT defectively, causing it to fail to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in an intended or reasonably foreseeable manner” and lacked a properly functioning crash cage and a proper racing fuel cell.
When discussing the potential outcome of the case, we had this to say about the merits:
While it is too early to determine whether it is Rodas or the L.A. County investigators who are correct, several aspects of this case are intriguing. First, Roger Rodas was an experienced race car driver. On the one hand, his experience could be a sign that the vehicle would not have crashed but for some defective condition. On the other, it could also explain why he felt he could drive the vehicle in a manner far too aggressively for normal road conditions. Second, the suit alleges that the vehicle was originally designed to be a Le Mans race car before being turned into an ultra-high performance super-sports car. We have to wonder whether these were post-manufacture modifications which could effect this product liability suit. Interestingly, this suit focuses on alleged deficiencies with parts fit for a race car, rather than recreational vehicle. Had this accident happened during Le Mans, then maybe we could more easily understand the alleged problems with the racing fuel cell or crash cage. We question whether those parts would have come into play if the vehicle had been traveling the posted speed limit.
As it turns out, the Court shared many of our same thoughts and granted Porsche’s motion for summary judgment. The Court found no merit to the allegations regarding the lack of a “properly functioning crash cage” because Rodas’ fatal injuries occurred when he and Walker collided together during the crash and, thus, would not have been prevented by a crash cage. The Court also shut down allegations regarding the racing fuel cell causing a fire after the crash because the “undisputed evidence shows Rodas did not die from fire or sustain any injuries from fire prior to his death.” The Court also found that there was insufficient evidence that the car’s suspension was defective. We do not know what effect, if any, Rodas’ racing experience had on the Court’s decision; however, as we expected, Porsche previously argued:
The mere fact that Mr Rodas had driven with some skill in race does not mean that he always drove with skill on the street and was incapable of losing control of a car. . . One does not need to be a NASCAR or Formula One fan to know that expert drivers lose control and crash with great frequency.
While this suit did not turn out well for Rodas, Walker’s father and daughter have similar appeals still pending. The lawyer for Walker’s daughter does not appear to be concerned as he released the following statement to E! News:
The issues in the cases are very different. The federal case was filed on behalf of Roger Rodas, who was the driver of the Porsche Carrera GT and was killed instantly upon impact. Meadow’s father, Paul Walker, was a passenger in the car. He survived the crash but was trapped and burned to death because of the vehicle’s defects.
Meadow will continue the fight to hold Porsche accountable for selling a defective product that kills.
Again, we will continue to follow this one closely.