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Scirocco v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi, Western Division

May 21, 2015

MARCUS SCIROCCO, et al. PLAINTIFFS
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY DEFENDANT

AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

KEITH STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

For the reasons below, the Court grants Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment [43].

I. Background

This is a product liability case. The product at issue is a 2010 Ford Fusion automobile. Plaintiffs, Marcus and Summer Scirocco, allege that Mrs. Scirocco was driving the car downhill when she heard a grinding noise. Plaintiffs claim that the car suddenly decelerated to a complete stop, throwing Mrs. Scirocco forward and injuring her neck, shoulder, and face. The allege that a defect in the car’s powertrain control module caused the accident.

Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit and asserted claims of negligence, breach of contract, breach of implied and express warranties, and strict liability. Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [43], which the Court now addresses.

II. Standard of Review

Rule 56 provides that “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Sierra Club, Inc. v. Sandy Creek Energy Assocs., L.P., 627 F.3d 134, 138 (5th Cir. 2010). “An issue is material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.” Sierra Club, Inc., 627 F.3d at 138. “An issue is ‘genuine’ if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Cuadra v. Houston Indep. Sch. Dist., 626 F.3d 808, 812 (5th Cir. 2010).

The Court is not permitted to make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence. Deville v. Marcantel, 567 F.3d 156, 164 (5th Cir. 2009). When deciding whether a genuine fact issue exists, “the court must view the facts and the inference to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Sierra Club, Inc., 627 F.3d at 138. However, “[c]onclusional allegations and denials, speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic argumentation do not adequately substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.” Oliver v. Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 744 (5th Cir. 2002).

III. Discussion

A. Subsumed Claims

The Mississippi Product Liability Act (“MPLA”) governs “any action for damages caused by a product, including but not limited to, any action based on a theory of strict liability in tort, negligence or breach of implied warranty . . . .” Miss. Code Ann. 11-1- 63. Therefore, as Plaintiffs’ claims of negligence, [1] and breach of implied warranties, [2]and strict liability[3] arise from damages caused by an allegedly defective product, they are subsumed by the MPLA.

Defendant also argued that Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim is subsumed by the MPLA, but it failed to cite any legal authority in support of this argument. Regardless, the parties did not address any alleged breach of contract in briefing, and the Court does not know enough about the claim to determine whether it is subsumed by the MPLA.

B. MPLA

Before the Court can analyze Plaintiffs’ MPLA claim, it must decipher the nature of the claim. In their Amended Complaint [12], Plaintiffs did not state whether the alleged defect was a design defect or a manufacturing defect, and they did not specify the nature of the defect. ...


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