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Smith v. Chrysler Group, L.L.C. No. 17-40901

Before JOLLY, JONES, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges.

AFFIRMED. (November 26, 2018).

Arthur Melton Smith was killed while driving a 2013 Jeep Wrangler, designed and manufactured by Chrysler Group, L.L.C. Days after the crash, Chrysler sent out a Recall Notice explaining that the transmission oil cooler (TOC) tube of some 2012 and 2013 Jeep Wranglers may leak, which could cause a fire in the underbody of the vehicle. Mr. Smith’s wife and three children contended that Mr. Smith’s Jeep had this recall defect and that it caused his Jeep to catch fire and crash. They sued Chrysler asserting claims of strict products liability, negligence, breach of warranty, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Plaintiffs theorized that the recall defect caused a fire in the Jeep’s underbody, filling the passenger compartment with carbon monoxide, so that Smith lost consciousness and ran off the road. After discovery, Chrysler moved for summary judgment, and upon recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, the District Court entered judgment for Chrysler on all claims. Plaintiffs appealed. Affirming the judgment of the District Court in all respects, the Fifth Circuit first holds that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the plaintiffs’ untimely expert report. The Court further holds that the District Court’s grant of summary judgment to Chrysler was proper as to all of plaintiffs’ claims. Finally, even assuming plaintiffs brought this suit in good faith and that their financial condition was dire, the Court finds no abuse of discretion in the District Court’s decision to award costs to Chrysler.

On Appeals from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marcia A. Crone).
Attorney for Appellant –  Darren Raven Mark VanPuymbrouck, Chicago, IL
Attorney for Appellee –  Ryan C. Bueche, Austin, TX



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